Stratigraphies and chronological subdivisions of the Late-glacial and the Holocene

Lang, Gerhard; Tinner, Willy; Morales-Molino, César; Schwörer, Christoph; Ammann, Brigitta (2023). Stratigraphies and chronological subdivisions of the Late-glacial and the Holocene. In: Lang, Gerhard; Ammann, Brigitta; Behre, Karl-Ernst; Tinner, Willy (eds.) Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics of Europe (pp. 137-144). Bern: Haupt Verlag

[img] Text
2023_QuatVegeDynEurope_137.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (1MB) | Request a copy

For comparative overviews of vegetation histories covering periods as long as the Late-glacial and the Holocene some structuring into shorter sections is necessary. Several sets of criteria have been used and have been (partly) connected. Some of these connections were, at different points in time, used in differing ways, a fact that sometimes caused confusion. A knowledge of the origin of the subdivisions and the terms used may help to understand any discrepancies. Because the subdivisions were usually derived from profiles in Late-glacial and Holocene sediments different stratigraphic methods have been applied during the 20th century:
1. A temporal division based on archaeological records (archaeostratigraphic subdivisions).
2. A temporal division based on the geomorphological records of ice-retreat (morphostratigraphic subdivisions).
3. A temporal division based on the records of pollen, plant macrofossils or other biological remains (biostratigraphic subdivisions).
4. A temporal division based on records of climate change (climatostratigraphic subdivisions).
5. Temporal subdivisions based on absolute dating (chronostratigraphic subdivisions).
Methods (1)–(3) are based on time-transgressive processes that varied across Europe; method (4) is based on climate reconstructions and, therefore, on interpretations. Methods (1)–(4) give only relative chronologies, with no fixed time units. Only method (5) can provide a basis for independent spatial correlation – but dating series alone need to be accompanied by ecological (biological), geochemical or isotopic information and this may have its own methodological uncertainties. The International Commission on Stratigraphy and its Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy have helped the efforts of the INTIMATE Working Group (Integration of ice-core, marine and terrestrial records) that produced many useful papers concentrating first on the Late-glacial (for example the special volume 20 of Quaternary Science Reviews, including Lowe, 2001) and later on the Holocene (Walker et al., 2012).
In order to show the possibilities and limitations of the various approaches we briefly go through these five methods.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Lang, Gerhard, Tinner, Willy, Morales del Molino, Cesar, Schwörer, Christoph, Ammann, Brigitta


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




Haupt Verlag




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

08 Aug 2023 11:49

Last Modified:

04 Sep 2023 14:30




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback