Tracking atmospheric and riverine terrigenous supplies variability during the last glacial and the Holocene in central Mediterranean
A multiproxy study – coupling mineralogical, grain size and geochemical approaches – was used to tentatively retrace eolian and fluvial contributions to sedimentation in the Sicilian–Tunisian Strait since the last glacial. The eolian supply is dominant over the whole interval, excepted during the sapropel S1 when riverine contribution apparently became significant. Saharan contribution increased during the Bølling–Allerød, evidencing the persistence of aridity over North Africa although the northern Mediterranean already experienced moister and warmer conditions. The Younger Dryas is marked by proximal dust inputs, highlighting intense regional eolian activity. A southward migration of dust provenance toward Sahel occurred at the onset of the Holocene, likely resulting from a southward position of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone that was probably associated with a large-scale atmospheric reorganization. Finally, a peculiar high terrigenous flux associated with drastic modifications of the mineralogical and geochemical sediment signature occurred during the sapropel S1, suggesting the propagation of fine particles derived from major floodings of the Nile River – resulting from enhanced rainfall on northeastern Africa – and their transportation across the Sicilian–Tunisian Strait by intermediate water masses.