Quaternary glacial history of the Mediterranean mountains

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Glacial and periglacial landforms are widespread in the mountains of the Mediterranean region. The evidence for glacial and periglacial activity has been studied for over 120 years and it is possible to identify three phases of development in this area of research. First, a pioneer phase characterized by initial descriptive observations of glacial landforms; second, a mapping phase whereby the detailed distribution of glacial landforms and sediments have been depicted on geomorphological maps; and, third, an advanced phase characterized by detailed understanding of the geochronology of glacial sequences using radiometric dating alongside detailed sedimentological and stratigraphical analyses. It is only relatively recently that studies of glaciated mountain terrains in the Mediterranean region have reached an advanced phase and it is now clear from radiometric dating programmes that the Mediterranean mountains have been glaciated during multiple glacial cycles. The most extensive phases of glaciation appear to have occurred during the Middle Pleistocene. This represents a major shift from earlier work whereby many glacial sequences were assumed to have formed during the last cold stage. Glacial and periglacial deposits from multiple Quaternary cold stages constitute a valuable palaeoclimatic record. This is especially so in the Mediterranean mountains, since mountain glaciers in this latitudinal zone would have been particularly sensitive to changes in the global climate system. © 2006 Edward Arnold (Publishers) Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-364
Number of pages30
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006


  • Glacial geomorphology
  • Glaciation
  • Mediterranean
  • Palaeoclimate
  • Periglacial geomorphology
  • Quaternary


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