Climate and human impact on a meromictic lake during the last 6,000 years (Montcortès Lake, Central Pyrenees, Spain)

Juan Pablo Corella, Ana Moreno, Mario Morellón, V. Rull, Santiago Giralt, María Teresa Rico, Ana Pérez-Sanz, Blas Lorenzo Valero-Garcés

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78 Scopus citations


Sedimentological, mineralogical and compositional analyses performed on short gravity cores and long Kullenberg cores from meromictic Montcortès Lake (Pre-Pyrenean Range, NE Spain) reveal large depositional changes during the last 6,000 cal years. The limnological characteristics of this karstic lake, including its meromictic nature, relatively high surface area/depth ratio (surface area ~0. 1 km2; zmax = 30 m), and steep margins, facilitated deposition and preservation of finely laminated facies, punctuated by clastic layers corresponding to turbidite events. The robust age model is based on 17 AMS 14C dates. Slope instability caused large gravitational deposits during the middle Holocene, prior to 6 ka BP, and in the late Holocene, prior to 1,600 and 1,000 cal yr BP). Relatively shallower lake conditions prevailed during the middle Holocene (6,000-3,500 cal years BP). Afterwards, deeper environments dominated, with deposition of varves containing preserved calcite laminae. Increased carbonate production and lower clastic input occurred during the Iberian-Roman Period, the Little Ice Age, and the twentieth century. Although modulated by climate variability, changes in sediment delivery to the lake reflect modifications of agricultural practices and population pressure in the watershed. Two episodes of higher clastic input to the lake have been identified: 1) 690-1460 AD, coinciding with an increase in farming activity in the area and the Medieval Climate Anomaly, and 2) 1770-1950 AD, including the last phase of the Little Ice Age and the maximum human occupation in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-367
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Financial support for this research was provided by the Spanish CICYT, through the projects LIMNOCLIBER (REN2003-09130-C02-02), IBERLIMNO (CGL2005-20236-E/CLI), LIMNOCAL (CGL2006-13327-C04-01) and GRACCIE (CSD2007-00067). Additional funding was provided by the Aragonese Regional Government–CAJA INMACULADA, which partially funded microfacies analysis at GFZ (Potsdam) through a travel grant. Juan Pablo Corella was supported by a PhD contract with CONAI?D (Aragonese Scientific Council for Research and Development), A. Moreno held a Ramón y Cajal programme post-doctoral contract, M. Rico a Juan de la Cierva contract from the Spanish Government and A. Pérez-Sanz a CONAI?D PhD fellowship. We are indebted to the GFZ and IPE-CSIC laboratory staffs for their collaboration in this research. We also thank Alberto Sáez and Clara Mangili for constructive criticisms of the earlier version of the manuscript.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Holocene
  • Human impact
  • Lake Montcortès
  • Little Ice Age
  • Pyrenees
  • Varves
  • Western Mediterranean


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