Impact of katabatic winds on the environment of Neanderthals during the Middle Palaeolithic in westernmost Europe - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Quaternary Science Year : 2021

Impact of katabatic winds on the environment of Neanderthals during the Middle Palaeolithic in westernmost Europe

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Abstract

Compilation of the offshore and onshore altitudinal limits of the loess deposits of western France and southern England shows that they were deposited by low-level wind fields. These relate to (i) the deflation of silt-rich sediment extracted from the outwash plains of the not far distant British–Irish Ice Sheet and from the palaeo-rivers of the Channel, and (ii) the existence of north and north-western palaeo-winds deduced from particle size analysis and heavy mineral distribution, and suggest (iii) that loess particles were transported by strong katabatic winds blowing from the northern ice-covered regions towards Brittany and Normandy. Comparison between the main orientation of Neanderthal shelters and the direction of the katabatic winds shows that they were perpendicular to each other. The dominant orientation of the shelters was apparently ruled by these winds. A small-scale study concentrating on the penultimate glaciation shows that in contrast to Brittany and Normandy where loess deposits accumulated on north-facing cliffs, in England the same particles were deposited on the leeside of the hills. The existence of deflation zones, violently swept by Marine Isotope Stage 6 katabatic winds south of the British–Irish ice sheet, was probably at the origin of the restricted number of Neanderthals at that time in England.
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Dates and versions

hal-03326944 , version 1 (15-11-2021)

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Jean-Pierre Lefort, Jean-Laurent Monnier, John Renouf, Guzel Danukalova. Impact of katabatic winds on the environment of Neanderthals during the Middle Palaeolithic in westernmost Europe. Journal of Quaternary Science, 2021, 36 (8), pp.1311-1321. ⟨10.1002/jqs.3361⟩. ⟨hal-03326944⟩
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