Abstract

Weathering rinds have been used for decades as relative age indicators to differentiate glacial deposits in long Quaternary sequences, but only recently has it been shown that rinds contain long and extensive palaeoenvironmental records that often extend far beyond mere repositories of chemical weathering on both Earth and Mars. When compared with associated palaeosols in deposits of the same age, rinds often carry a zonal weathering record that can be correlated with palaeosol horizon characteristics, with respect to both abiotic and biotic parameters. As demonstrated with examples from the French and Italian Alps, rinds in coarse clastic sediment contain weathering zones that correlate closely with horizon development in associated palaeosols of presumed Late Glacial age. In addition to weathering histories in both rinds and palaeosols, considerable evidence exists to indicate that the black mat impact (12.8 ka) reached the European Alps, a connection with the Younger Dryas readvance supported by both mineral and chemical composition. Preliminary metagenomic microbial analysis using density gradient gel electrophoresis suggests that the eubacterial microbial population found in at least one Ah palaeosol horizon associated with a rind impact site is different from that in other Late Glacial and Younger Dryas surface palaeosol horizons.

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