Abstract

The central part of the Gulf of Lions shoreline is characterized by many coastal wetlands that resulted from the interaction between a process of shoreline regularization by migrations of littoral barriers and a slow filling of the back-barrier areas by the riverine and marine inputs. Analyses of Late-Holocene deposits with a very high-resolution multi-proxy study of two sediment cores, allow us to reconstruct the evolution of this coastal system. Two main Holocene sediment units are identified overlying a Pliocene carbonate continental formation. The lower unit consists of sandy and pebbly marine sediments deposited around 7800 B.P., during the final stand of the last sea level rise. Just above, the upper unit displays lagoonal grey clay silts with shells and some intercalated layers of silty sands related to paleostorm events. The age model was established from radiocarbon dating, for the oldest part of the core. Over the last century, sedimentation rates were calculated using the CFCS 210Pb model, together with 137Cs data. Radiocarbon data show an increase in the accumulation rate from the base to the top of cores. Marine sand units related to the last transgressive deposit allow to refine the curve of Holocene post-glacial sea level rise. Sedimentological and faunal analyses associated with chronological data provide a means for reconstructing the Late-Holocene paleoenvironments along this part of the coast and suggest that the final closure of the coastal lagoon by the sandy barrier occurred at around 730 ± 120 yr cal B.P. The beginning of this closure, together with the progradation of the coastal plain, could be responsible for the decline in economic activity of the Lattara harbour during the Roman period.

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