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The significance of pollen signal in present-day marine terrigenous sediments : The example of the Gulf of Lions (western Mediterranean Sea)

Journal title : Geobios
Issue : 2
Pagination : 159-172
Publication date : 01/03/2007


Tenigenous marine and continental sediments constitute pollen reservoirs able to fulfil the lack of Pleistocene data extracted from autochtonous lacustrine sediments for palaeovegetation reconstructions. Nevertheless, it is essential to constrain the signification of the pollen signal in such still under-exploited sediments. This article introduces a study carried out on the shelf of the Gulf of Lions. It aims at (1) highlighting the transport of pollen grains and the signification of the record in that area as well as at (2) discussing the pollen transport in various sedimentary contexts. The present study was carried out on surface water of the Rhone River, sea water and surface sediments of the shelf of the Gulf of Lions. The pollen content of the Rhone River and of its plume is in agreement with the season of sampling. On the contrary, the other samples of sea water did not contain any pollen grain. The samples from the surface sediments of the shelf are very rich in pollen grains and evidence the absence of sorting by currents except for Pinus. Indeed, its relative abundance increases when the fluvial impact decreases. The pollen signal (except Pinus) records the phytogeographic changes linked to the different drainage basins. The riparian woodland is over-represented at the Rhone River mouth. In front of the Pyreneo-languedocian rivers, Mediterranean xerophytes pollen grains are more abundant. From these results and from others taken in the literature, a model of pollen transport is built: all thin terrigenous sediments contain pollen grains essentially transported by rivers while autochthonous sediments (i.e., found in closed lakes or marine pelagic sediments) contain pollen grains brought by wind. Small closed lakes (or peat bogs) pollen spectra document local floras while those from pelagic marine sediments document floras from several hundred square kilometres.


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