An early MIS 3 pluvial phase in Southeast Arabia: climatic and archaeological implications

Parton, Ash; Farrant, Andrew R.; Leng, Melanie J.; Schwenninger, Jean-Luc; Rose, Jeffrey I.; Uerpmann, Hans-Peter; Parker, Adrian G.. 2013 An early MIS 3 pluvial phase in Southeast Arabia: climatic and archaeological implications. Quaternary International, 300. 62-74.

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Climatic changes in Arabia are of critical importance to our understanding of both monsoon variability and the dispersal of anatomically modern humans (AMH) out of Africa. The timing of dispersal is associated with the occurrence of pluvial periods during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 (ca. 130–74 ka), after which arid conditions between ca. 74 and 10.5 ka are thought to have restricted further migration and range expansion within the Arabian interior. Whilst a number of records indicate that this phase of aridity was punctuated by an increase in monsoon strength during MIS 3, uncertainties regarding the precision of terrestrial records and suitability of marine archives as records of precipitation, mean that the occurrence of this pluvial remains debated. Here we present evidence from a series of relict lake deposits within southeastern Arabia, which formed at the onset of MIS 3 (ca. 61–58 ka). At this time, the incursion of monsoon rainfall into the Arabian interior activated a network of channels associated with an alluvial fan system along the western flanks of the Hajar Mountains, leading to lake formation. Multiproxy evidence indicates that precipitation increases intermittently recharged fluvial systems within the region, leading to lake expansion in distal fan zones. Conversely, decreased precipitation led to reduced channel flow, lake contraction and a shift to saline conditions. These findings are in contrast to the many other palaeoclimatic records from Arabia, which suggest that during MIS 3, the latitudinal position of the monsoon was substantially further south and did not penetrate the peninsula. Additionally, the occurrence of increased rainfall at this time challenges the notion that the climate of Arabia following MIS 5 was too harsh to permit the further range expansion of indigenous communities.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 10406182
Date made live: 02 Sep 2013 08:53 +0 (UTC)

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