Original paper

Landscape aridification in Central Germany during the late Weichselian Pleniglacial - results from the Zauschwitz loess site in western Saxony

Lauer, Tobias; Von Suchodoletz, Hans; Vollmann, Heiko; Meszner, Sascha; Frechen, Manfred; Tinapp, Christian; Goldmann, Lisa; Müller, Susann; Zielhofer, Christoph


In Zauschwitz (Western Saxonian loess area, Central Germany), a ca. 7 m thick loess-palaeosol sequence underlain by fluvial gravels and sands was investigated in order to study regional palaeoenvironmental changes during the late Weichselian Pleniglacial. The lithostratigraphic classification of the loess-palaeosol sequence was combined with polymineral fine grain luminescence dating using the pIRIR290 approach, and correlated with similar loess-palaeosol-sequences from Central Saxony. Doing so, we obtained information about a climatic shift from more humid to more arid conditions during the late Pleniglacial, due to changes in the landscape dynamics of the study area: At ca. 30 ka, braided river flood-plain accumulation of the nearby Weisse Elster river was followed by a phase of decreased fluvial activity, allowing initial loess deposition on top of the fluvial sands and gravels. This period was characterized by cold but still quite humid conditions, as indicated by reworked loess and the occurrence of several tundra gley soils. Subsequently, a cold and more arid period of dust accumulation followed after ca. 22 ka. Intensive anthropogenic activity almost totally redeposited the Holocene black soil, demonstrating the attractiveness of the fertile loess area for early human settlement.


late weichselian pleniglacialloess-stratigraphyluminescence datingpirirwestern saxonian loess area