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Extreme storms during the last 500 years from lagoonal sedimentary archives in Languedoc (SE France)

Tempêtes extrêmes au cours des 500 dernières années dans les lagunes du Languedoc (SE France)
Laurent Dezileau and Jérôme Castaings
p. 131-137


A study of sediment cores was undertaken to follow the horizontal extent of washover fans in the Palavasian lagoons (Languedoc, France). These geomorphological structures are associated to intense storm events. Dating of these events shows age ranges that correspond to the second part of the Little Ice Age (LIA). The results also indicate little likelihood of a tsunami origin of these washover fans, although there is historical evidence of tsunamis in the western Mediterranea. Comparison of sediment records with palaeoclimate records indicates that this increase of storm events was probably modulated by atmospheric dynamics. We suggest that extreme storm events are associated with a large cooling of Europe.

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1 - Study site
2 - Materials and methods
2.1 - Core material
2.2 - Physical measures
2.3 - Geochronology
3 ‑ Resultats
3.1 ‑ Core descriptions
3.2 ‑ Stratigraphic framework and age model
4 - Discussion
4.1 - Overwash deposits chronology
4.2 - Another origin of theses sand layers ?
4.3 – Paleoclimatological interpretations

First lines

In the context of current climate change, there is an increasing concern that extreme climatic events may be changing in frequency and intensity. Storms and floods have been for long a threat for the western Mediterranean coast even if their link with climate variability is still misunderstood. This is in partly due to the fact that extreme events are inherently rare and difficult to observe in the period of a human life and to the lack of long-term observations or paleo-reconstructions. Understanding causes of their occurrence both in past and present climate, i.e. under different forcings, is an crucial issue for future predictions considering the growing number of people living in the coastal Mediterranean in high-risk areas and therefore enhanced exposure. Natural systems are highly sensitive to intense climate episodes but impact assessment strongly depends on the resiliency and capability for adaptation and mitigation of each system. In order to place such events in the broade...

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Electronic reference

Laurent Dezileau and Jérôme Castaings, « Extreme storms during the last 500 years from lagoonal sedimentary archives in Languedoc (SE France) », Méditerranée [Online], 122 | 2014, Online since 19 June 2016, connection on 18 November 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/mediterranee.7199

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About the authors

Laurent Dezileau

Geosciences Montpellier, Université Montpellier 2, CNRS, UMR 5243, France,

Jérôme Castaings

Geosciences Montpellier, Université Montpellier 2, CNRS, UMR 5243, France

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