Weichselian palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironment in Europe:: background for palaeogroundwater formation
R. Vaikmäe, W. M. Edmunds, M. Manzano, 2001. "Weichselian palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironment in Europe:: background for palaeogroundwater formation", Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe: Evolution of Groundwater since the Late Pleistocene, W. M. Edmunds, C. J. Milne
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A review is given of palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental evidence across Europe for the Weichselian period relevant to interpreting the emplacement and circulation of groundwaters. In addition, this provides the background against which the evidence of past climates and environments contained in groundwaters in coastal areas of Europe, from the Baltic to the Atlantic Ocean may be compared. For much of the Weichselian, although significantly colder than at present, conditions were favourable for the recharge of groundwater, as shown, for example, by periods of speleothem growth. During the last glacial maximum (LGM) recharge is likely to have ceased over much of permafrost-covered Europe, although shallow groundwater recharge from meltwater (generated by the geothermal gradients) could have taken place beneath the ice where pressure relief through tunnel valleys may have occurred. Modem recharge could have started as early as 13 14C ka bp, but probably interrupted by the Younger Dryas between 11 and 10 14C ka bp. In the Baltic areas, ice-dammed lakes inhibited the start of the modem hydrogeological regimes until c. 10.3 14C ka bp. Tundra conditions prevailed over most of ice-free southern Europe at the time of the LGM. At this time the area south of the Portuguese–Spanish border retained a generally warm and relatively humid climate due to the maintenance of warmer sea-surface temperatures derived from Atlantic Ocean circulation. For most of coastal Europe, however, the most significant impact on groundwater circulation is likely to have been the lowering of sea levels that drained large areas of the shelf, such as the North Sea and the English Channel, and also had a significant impact on the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula where the maximum lowering of up to 130 m would have been experienced. This, together with the general changes in climate, would also have reorganized the atmospheric chemistry over sites in Europe that is likely to be recorded in the groundwater’s chemical and isotopic signatures.
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Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe contains 17 contributions from an international array of authors. They discuss the history of groundwater evolution during the late Pleistocene in the coastal areas of Europe from the Baltic region to the Iberian peninsula and the Canary Islands. Geochemical and geophysical techniques for evaluating palaeowaters are reviewed. The focus of the book is on changes in the hydrogeological regime during the Quaternary and their impacts on groundwater movement and chemistry in European coastal aquifers.
The work summarized in the papers was carried out by a partnership of European scientists under the auspices of the PALAEAUX project, an EC initiative. Researchers from the fields of hydrogeology, geochemistry, isotope hydrology and Quaternary studies attempted to reconstruct the most probable movement of groundwater in the study area over the past 100 000 years and its response to climatic events of global significance during the last glacial cycle. The results of this work, summarized in this volume, allow a better understanding of the water resources found at and near the coastlines of northern and western Europe. During times of lowered sea level, it appears that groundwaters were replenished to depths greater than occur at the present day. These pristine freshwater reserves are an irreplaceable asset. Their location at coastlines where populations and water demands are high and often seasonal means that they need careful management to avoid over-exploitation or contamination. The inevitable conflicts that this resource management creates are discussed.
Palaeowaters in Coastal Europe: evolution of groundwater since the late Pleistocene will be of interest to Quarternary scientists, hydrogeologists, marine scientists engaged in coastal research and those involved in environmental science and the management of groundwater assests.