Application of malacological analysis to reconstruct climate fluctuations and human activity during the Middle and Late Holocene. Research in the valley of the Grajcarek stream (Pieniny Mts., southern Poland)

Witold Paweł Alexandrowicz


The scope of this analysis included fluvial sediments of the low terrace of the Grajcarek stream in the Małe Pieniny Mts. (Western Carpathians). The structure of the terrace has been surveyed in five profiles. The sedimentary sequence includes alternating layers of gravel and calcareous mud with a maximum thickness of up to 2.2 m. A rich and varied malacofauna has been found in the mud. The age of the sediments was determined using the radiocarbon method. The sediments that make up the terrace cover the younger part of the Middle Holocene and the entire Late Holocene. The analysis of the malacofauna has allowed for the characterization of environmental changes. The most important of them dates back to the Middle Ages and is associated with the phase of intensive settlement in the Pieniny Mts.. It is indicated by deforestation and the related change in the composition and structure of malacocoenoses manifested by the replacement of forest communities by ones with open-country species. Gravel horizons are records of flood periods correlated with wet climatic phases. It is possible to distinguish six such phases covering the following periods: 6600–6100 y cal BP, 5500–5100 y cal BP, 4500–4100 y cal BP, 3200–2300 y cal BP, 2000–900 y cal BP and 400–200 y cal BP. They correspond to the periods of increased fluvial activity of rivers, intensification of mass movements, advances of alpine glaciers and the increase in the water level in lakes.


Environmental changes; Molluscs; Flood phases; Holocene; Pieniny Mts.; Carpathians

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