The Carpathian-Balkans during the Holocene: reconstructing human influences and climatic changes

Longman, Jack (2018) The Carpathian-Balkans during the Holocene: reconstructing human influences and climatic changes. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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The Carpathian-Balkan region in south-eastern Europe is one of the longest inhabited regions in Europe, with evidence of some of the earliest examples of European agriculture, farming and metallurgy. Despite its importance for understanding past human activity and climate change, high-resolution reconstructions of Holocene hydroclimate variability and human impact are rare. This thesis provides a series of new high-resolution Holocene (the past 11,700 years) palaeoenvironmental records derived from peat bogs in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, and the Dinaric Alps of Serbia, to investigate climate variation and human impact.

Two peat-derived archives of environmental change in Romania are presented. First, a 7500-year record of minerogenic deposition from the Southern Carpathians linked to heavy rainfall events provides the first record of extreme precipitation for the Carpathians. Such minerogenic depositional events began 4000 calibrated years before present (yr BP, where present is 1950 CE), with increased depositional rates during the Medieval Warm Period (1150 – 850yr BP), the Little Ice Age (350 – 100 yr BP) and during periods of societal upheaval (e.g. the Roman conquest of Dacia). The timing of minerogenic events appears to indicate a teleconnection between the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and hydroclimate variability in south-eastern Europe, which persists throughout the mid-to-late Holocene. Secondly, a 10,800-year record of geochemically-derived dust deposition and testate amoeba-derived local wetness from the Eastern Romanian Carpathians highlights several discrepancies between eastern and western European dust depositional records and the impact of highly complex hydrological regimes in the Carpathian region. Specifically, the record outlines the increased impact of Saharan dust after 6100 yr BP which is associated with the end of the African Humid Period.

A lead (Pb) record from a peat bog in Western Serbia provides an unprecedented view on past pollution related to metal exploitation in the Balkans. Environmental Pb pollution is first observed in the very earliest Bronze Age, the oldest environmental Pb pollution in Europe. After 600 CE an almost linearly increasing Pb trend until the Medieval period is observed. Comparison with western European records suggests an alternative history of European metallurgy, one in which metal-related pollution does not cease with the fall of the Roman Empire, and which displays major Medieval pollution.

Pb isotopes provide a valuable insight into the sources of Pb observed within a sample, allowing for the fingerprinting of their metal’s geological source, or production site. Presented here is the application of a state of the art Bayesian mixing model to such a purpose, outlining a ‘best practice’ and testing of the approach via a number of real-world examples.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: peat bogs, geochemistry, palaeoclimate, palaeopollution, climate change
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2022 08:55
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2022 09:00

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