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TitleDid Laurentide Ice Sheet floodwater change the history of European civilization?
AuthorMudie, P J; Marret, F; Hiscott, R N; Aksu, A E
SourceAtlantic Geoscience Society Abstracts: 2008 Colloquium & Annual General Meeting; Atlantic Geology vol. 44, 2008 p. 28
Alt SeriesEarth Sciences Sector, Contribution Series 20080532
MeetingAtlantic Geoscience Society 34th Colloquium and Annual General Meeting; Dartmouth, NS; CA; February 1-2, 2008
AreaBlack Sea; Middle East
Subjectsmarine geology; surficial geology/geomorphology; sea level changes; sea level fluctuations; floods; paleoenvironment; Holocene; Laurentide Ice Sheet; Cenozoic
ProgramGeoscience for Oceans Management
AbstractIn a recent (November 2007) paper, it was reported that a 1.4 m increase in sea level rise accompanied the collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, and the resulting discharge of floodwater from 8.4 - 8.2 cal ka BP drowned a subaerially exposed Black Sea shelf with seawater. The consequence of this hypothetical catastrophic flooding was that early Neolithic farmers had to flee from the region to higher ground in Europe and Russia, thus ending cultural development in the Pontic region for several millennia. In contrast, our paleoenvironmental data collected from sediment cores on the SW Black Sea Shelf and the Marmara Sea show that the Black Sea was already connected to the World's Oceans by 9.5 cal ka BP, and central shelf was flooded by brackish water to a depth of ca. 20 m by 8.6 cal ka BP or earlier. Our data show a slow two-step reconnection of the Black and Mediterranean seas in the early Holocene, at which time the climate was relatively warm and wet, not cold and dry as required for drawdown and isolation of a Black Sea lake. Our palynological data also show that there is no evidence for either a catastrophic flood around 8.4 - 8.2 cal ka BP, or for sustained agriculture near the Black Sea before the Bronze Age, ca. 6 cal Ka BP. Furthermore, our paleoenvironmental reconstruction is consistent with the available archaeological evidence showing a steady early Holocene migration of agricultural societies into the Mediterranean and Europe westwards from centers in the Middle East.