New evidence for the rank of the Wartanian cold period (Pleistocene, MIS 6): a case study from E Poland

Sławomir Terpiłowski, Tomasz Zieliński, Przemysław Mroczek, Paweł Zieliński, Piotr Czubla, Stanisław Fedorowicz


In the stratigraphic division of the Saalian (Middle Pleistocene) in Europe, the Wartanian cold period has the rank of a stadial of the Odranian Glaciation, correlated with MIS 6. The authors demonstrate the higher rank of this cold period, on the basis of an analysis of the sedimentary succession in eastern Poland, at an exposure of the terminal moraine of the Wartanian ice sheet. At the Wólka Zagórna site, three stratigraphic units were distinguished: A (lower glacigenic deposits – glaciofluvial deposits and subglacial till), A/B (fossil soil of lessivé type), B and C (a periglacial horizon with deflation pavement, involutions, frost-wedge structures and upper glaciofluvial deposits and flow till, with ice-wedge casts). Two distinct periods of climatic cooling, associated with the youngest Saalian ice sheets, were recorded in this succession in E Poland: Odranian (unit A, an ice-sheet transgression marked by the deposition of glaciofluvial deposits dated as 365–226 ka, ending with the deposition of subglacial till), and Wartanian (units B and C, an ice sheet transgression marked by development of a periglacial zone, dated as 180–126 ka, and then deposition of glacigenic sediments at the front of the ice sheet and formation of a marginal moraine). Each of these periods of ice-sheet transgression occurred at a different time (in the MIS 8 and MIS 6 positions) and were separated by a warm period. It is documented by unit A/B – a fossil soil with a very well developed Bt horizon – which attests to its formation in an illuviation process beneath a complex of mixed forests during an interstadial warming that occurred in MIS 7. From this palaeoclimatic reconstruction, it is inferred that the Wartanian cold period should be viewed as a separate glaciation in MIS 6 and the Odranian period should be assigned to MIS 8 in the stratigraphic schema of the Quaternary.

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