Paleoclimate delineation using magnetic susceptibility data

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© Philip G. Chase, André Debénath, Harold L. Dibble, and Shannon P. McPherron 2009. INTRODUCTION This chapter reports on the use of the technique of magnetic susceptibility (MS) on sediments found in Fontéchevade Cave to describe the paleoclimate of the region. It describes in detail the technique of MS and its usefulness in detecting paleoclimatic trends from sediment analysis. It is well known that MS data from cave sediments found in archaeological sites can be used as a high-resolution paleoclimate proxy. MS is useful when other climate indicators and dates are ambiguous or absent. Caves and perhaps deep rock shelters provide ideal environments for sediment deposition that is unaffected by in-situ pedogenesis. Cave sediments are not as strongly affected by iron variations produced within individual soils as are sediments at open-air sites, nor are they strongly affected by bioturbation, which is minimal in most caves and is usually easily recognized during excavation. From cave sediments, paleoclimatic trends and estimates of duration of sediment deposition can be extracted. Because paleoclimate analyses of this type are performed on the entire data set from which archaeological materials are extracted, we believe that MS data provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the effect of climate on the behavior of ancient peoples. In recent years, MS measurements of sediments have been used in paleoclimatic studies of loess and as a paleoclimate proxy in other materials. (The MS work in loess has been summarized by Heller and Evans [1995].

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The Cave of Fontechevade

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