Large areas of the northern alpine foreland are covered by loess, a fine-grain clastic sediment composed predominantly by silt-sized particles. While loess was deposited under cold climatic conditions, soil formation took place under temperate and warm conditions. Thus, stratigraphical sequences of loess and fossil soils (loess-paleosol-sequences, LPS) represent climatic and environmental changes over long geological time periods.
The LPS from the Salzach-palaeoglacier forefield were mainly formed during the last glacial cycle, i. e. the time period ~115-20 ka.The youngest loess accumulation phase took place during the last glacial maximum (LGM), a time period characterised by minimum temperatures and maximum extent of alpine glaciers.
Among the numerous loess outrops from the last glacial found in that region, the site of Duttendorf (Upper Austria) is the most prominent one. We use abiotic and biotic proxies to characterise the climatic and environmental conditions during the LGM at that place. Luminescence data provide information about the timing and duration of loess sedimentation at that place. This makes Duttendorf one of the best studied loess sites in Austria.
Project title: Palaeoecological investigations on selected loess-palaeosol-sequences in the Northern Alpine Foreland
Financial support: Commission of Quaternary Research, Austrian Academy of Science
Investigators: Reinhard Starnberger, Helena Rodnight, Christoph Spötl