Chronology of the last glacial cycle in the European Alps


  • Ivy-Ochs, S., Kerschner, H., Reuther, A., Preusser, F., Heine, K., Maisch, M., Kubik, P. W. and Schlüchter, C. 2008. Chronology of the last glacial cycle in the European Alps. J. Quaternary Sci., Vol. 23 pp. 559–573. ISSN 0267-8179.


Chronological data for glacier advances in the European Alps between the Last Interglacial (Eemian) and the Holocene are summarised (115 to 11 ka). During this time glaciers were most extensive, extending tens of kilometres out onto the forelands, between 30 and 18 ka, that is, synchronous with the global ice volume maximum of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 2. Evidence for ice expanding to just past the mountain front for an earlier major glacier advance comes from Swiss sites, where advances have been luminescence dated to MIS 5d (100 ka) and MIS 4 (70 ka). Up to now no such evidence has been found in the Eastern Alps. By 18 ka, more than 80% of the Late Würmian ice volume had gone. Subsequently glaciers readvanced, reaching into the upper reaches of the main valleys during the Lateglacial Gschnitz stadial, which likely occurred around 17 ka, with final moraine stabilisation no later than 15.4 ka. The link of the Egesen stadial with the Younger Dryas climate deterioration is supported by exposure ages from four sites as well as minimum-limiting radiocarbon dates from bogs within former glacier tongue areas. Key questions on the spatial and temporal variability of ice extents throughout the last glacial cycle have yet to be answered. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.