Middle to Late Holocene glacial variations, periglacial processes and alluvial sedimentation on the higher Apennine massifs (Italy)
The major climatic variations that have affected the summit slopes of the higher Apennine massifs in the last 6000 yr are shown in alternating layers of organic matter-rich soils and alluvial, glacial and periglacial sediments. The burial of the soils, triggered by environmental-climatic variations, took place in several phases. For the last 3000 yr chronological correlations can be drawn between phases of glacial advance, scree and alluvial sedimentation and development of periglacial features. During some periods, the slopes were covered by vegetation up to 2700 m and beyond, while in other phases the same slopes were subject to glacial advances and periglacial processes, and alluvial sediments were deposited on the high plateaus. Around 5740-5590, 1560-1370 and 1300-970 cal yr B.P., organic matter-rich soils formed on slopes currently subject to periglacial and glacial processes; the mean annual temperature must therefore have been higher than at present. Furthermore, on the basis of the variations in the elevation of the lower limit reached by gelifraction, it can be concluded that the oscillations in the minimum winter temperatures could have ranged between 3.0°C lower (ca. 790-150 cal yr B.P.) and 1.2°C higher (ca. 5740-5590 cal yr B.P.) than present minimum winter temperatures. During the last 3000 yr the cold phases recorded by the Calderone Glacier advance in the Apennines essentially match basically the phases of glacial advance in the Alps.