Prospects and limitations of heavy mineral analyses to discriminate preglacial/glacial transitions in Pleistocene sedimentary successions

Open access


The present study revolves around the identification of the stratigraphical boundary between Pleistocene formations that formed prior to the first advance of the Scandinavian ice sheet (Early Pleistocene, i.e., the so-called preglacial) and the overlying, glacially derived deposits (Middle Pleistocene). In particular, it focuses on variation in heavy mineral assemblages, which are an important tool for stratigraphers. The Neogene basement, described here, was most often the source of material that was redeposited by Early Pleistocene rivers. The geological structure and Early Pleistocene palaeogeographical scenarios for various Polish regions are discussed. Moreover, comparisons with other European preglacial formations are carried out. The mineral spectrum of Lower Pleistocene deposits is largely dependent of rocks of the Neogene and Mesozoic basement. If the incision of ancient catchments was into terrigenous rocks, the stratigraphical boundary between preglacial and glacial formations is easily determined with the help of a heavy mineral analysis. As a rule, this coincides with a noticeable change from resistant to non-resistant mineral associations. Such cases are noted for successions in central Poland and eastern England. On the other hand, outcrops of igneous or metamorphic rocks exist within preglacial river catchments in most parts of Europe. They were the local sources of non-resistant heavy minerals long before their glacial supply from the Baltic Shield. In these cases, mineralogical analysis fails in the search for the Early/Middle Pleistocene transition.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Antoine P. Moncel M.-H. Locht J.-L. Limondin-Lozouet N. Auguste P. Stoetzel E. Dabkowski J. Voinchet P. Bahain J.-J. & Falgueres C. 2015. Dating the earliest human occupation of Western Europe: New evidence from the fluvial terrace system of the Somme basin (Northern France). Quaternary International 370 77–99.

  • Arnold L.J. Demuro M. Parés J.M. Pérez-González A. Arsuaga J.L. Bermúdez de Castro J.M. & Carbonell E. 2015. Evaluating the suitability of extended-range luminescence dating techniques over early and Middle Pleistocene timescales: Published datasets and case studies from Atapuerca Spain. Quaternary International 389 167–190.

  • Badura J. & Przybylski B. 2004. Evolution of the Late Neogene and Eopleistocene fluvial system in the fore land of the Sudetes Mountains SW Poland. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae 74 43–61.

  • Bateman R.M. & Catt J.A. 2007. Provenance and palaeoenvironmental interpretation of superficial deposits with particular reference to post-depositional modification of heavy mineral assemblages. In: Developments in Sedimentology 58 151–188.

  • Bijlsma S. 1981. Fluvial sedimentation from the Fennoscandian area into the North-West European Basin during Late Cenozoic. Geologie en Mijnbouw 60 337–345.

  • Boenigk W. & Frechen M. 2006. The Pliocene and Quaternary fluvial archives of the Rhine system. Quaternary Science Reviews 25 550–574.

  • Bolikhovskaya N.S. Faustov S.S. & Markova A.K. 2016. Pleistocene climatic stratigraphy and environments of the Terek-Kuma Lowland (NW Caspian sea region) inferred from palynological paleomagnetic and rodent records of the long Otkaznoye sediment sequence. Quaternary International 409 16–32.

  • Bujak L. 2010. Heavy minerals in preglacial sediments of the southern Mazovian Lowland. Biuletyn Państwowego Instytutu Geologicznego 438 19–32.

  • Bujak Ł. Woronko B. Winter H. Marcinkowski B. Werner T. Stachowicz-Rybka R. Żarski M. Woźniak P.P. & Rosowiecka O. 2016. A new stratigraphic position of some Early Pleistocene deposits in central Poland. Geological Quarterly 60 238–251.

  • Chiarini E. Giardini M. Mattei M. Papasodaro F. Porreca M. & Sadori L. 2009. Plio-Quaternary geological evolution of the high Salto river valley (Central Italy): The Marano de’ Marsi unit. Alpine and Mediterranean Quaternary 22 325–343.

  • Ciuk E. 1970. Schematy litostratygraficzne trzeciorzędu Niżu Polskiego [Lithostratigraphical schemes of the Tertiary from the Polish Lowland area]. Kwartalnik Geologiczny 14 754–771.

  • Cordier S. Harmand D. Lauer T. Voinchet P. Bahain J.-J. & Frechen M. 2012. Geochronological reconstruction of the Pleistocene evolution of the Sarre valley (France and Germany) using OSL and ESR dating techniques. Geomorphology 165–166 91–106.

  • Czerwonka J.A. & Krzyszkowski D. 2001. Preglacial (Pliocene – Early Middle Pleistocene) deposits in Southwestern Poland: lithostratigraphy and reconstruction of drainage pattern. In: Krzyszkowski D. (Ed.): Late Cainozoic Stratigraphy and Palaeogeography of the Sudetic Foreland. Wind Wrocław 147–195.

  • Donders T.H. Kloosterboer-van Hoeve M.L. Westerhoff W. Verreussel R.M.C.H & Lotter A.F. 2007. Late Neogene continental stages in NW Europe revisited. Earth-Science Reviews 85 161–186.

  • Duval M. Sancho C. Calle M. Guilarte V. & Peña-Monné J.L. 2015. On the interest of using the multiple center approach in ESR dating of optically bleached quartz grains: Some examples from the Early Pleistocene terraces of the Alcanadre River (Ebro basin Spain). Quaternary Geochronology 29 58–69.

  • Dyjor S. 1987a. Systemy kopalnych dolin Polski Zachodniej i fazy ich rozwoju w młodszym neogenie i eoplejstocenie [Systems of burried valleys in western Poland and phases of their development in the Upper Neogene and Eopleistocene]. [In:] Jahn A. & Dyjor S. (Eds): Problemy młodszego neogenu i eoplejstocenu w Polsce [Problems of Late Neogene and Eopleistocene in Poland]. Ossolineum Wrocław p. 85–101 (in Polish with English summary).

  • Dyjor S. 1987b. Młodotrzeciorzędowy i eoplejstoceński rozwój sieci kopalnych dolin w Polsce na tle ewolucji paleogeograficznej obszaru bruzdy środkowoeuropejskiej [Early Tertiary and Eopleistocene evolution of burried valleys in Poland against the background of the Middle European palaeogeography. [In:] Jahn A. & Dyjor S. (Eds): Problemy młodszego neogenu i eoplejstocenu w Polsce [Problems of Late Neogene and Eopleistocene in Poland]. Ossolineum Wrocław p. 85–101 (in Polish with English summary).

  • Dyjor S. 1991. Wpływ ewolucji paleogeograficznej na rozwój zlodowaceń w Polsce Zachodniej [Influence of the palaeogeographical evolution on the development of glaciations in western Poland]. [In:] Kostrzewski A. (Ed.): Geneza litologia i stratygrafia utworów czwartorzędowych [Genesis lithology and stratigraphy of Quaternary deposits]. Geografia Poznań 50 p. 419–433 (in Polish with English summary).

  • Gao H.S. Li Z.M. Liu X.F. Pan B.T. Wu Y.J. & Liu F.L. 2017. Fluvial terraces and their implications for Weihe River valley evolution in the Sanyangchuan Basin. Science China Earth Sciences 60 413–427.

  • Gibbard P.L. & Lewin J. 2016. Partitioning the Quaternary. Quaternary Science Reviews 151 127–139.

  • Griffioen J. Klaver G. & Westerhoff W.E. 2016. The mineralogy of suspended matter fresh and Cenozoic sediments in the fluvio-deltaic Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt-Ems area the Netherlands: An overview and review. Netherlands Journal of Geosciences 95 23–107.

  • Goździk J. & Zieliński T. 2017. Evolution of Early Pleistocene fluvial systems in central Poland prior to the first ice sheet advance – a case study from the Bełchatów lignite mine. Geologos 23 89–107.

  • Goździk J. Kenig K. & Skórzak A. 2010. Zmiany kształtu ziaren kwarcowych oraz składu mineralnego piaszczystych osadów miocenu pliocenu i niższego czwartorzędu w rowie Kleszczowa [Changes in the shape of quartz grains and mineral composition of Miocene Pliocene and Lower Quaternary sand deposits in the Kleszczów Graben]. Biuletyn Państwowego Instytutu Geologicznego 438 33–50.

  • Kemna H.A. 2008. Pliocene and Lower Pleistocene fluvial history of the Lower Rhine Embayment Germany: Examples of the tectonic forcing of river courses. Quaternary International 189 106–114.

  • Knox R.W.O.B. Bosch J.H.A. Rassmussen E.S. Heilmann-Clausen C. Hiss M. De Jugt I.R. Kasiński J. King C. Köthe A. Słodkowska B. Standke C. & Vandenberghe M. 2010. Cenozoic. In: Doornenbal & Stevenson A. (Eds): Petroleum Geological Atlas of the South Permian Basin Area. EAGE Publication Houten 211–224.

  • Kosmowska-Ceranowicz B. 1979. Zmienność litologiczna i pochodzenie okruchowych osadów trzeciorzędowych wybranych rejonów północnej i środkowej Polski [Lithology and origin of Tertiary clastic deposits in central and northern Poland: results of translucent heavy-mineral analysed]. Prace Muzeum Ziemi 30 3–73.

  • Krzyszkowski D. 1990. Neogene fluvial sedimentation in the Kleszczów Graben Central Poland. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology 63 204–217.

  • Krzyszkowski D. & Winter H. 1996. Stratigraphic position and sedimentary features of the Tertiary Uppermost Fluvial Member in the Kleszczów Graben Central Poland. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae 66 17–33.

  • Lee J.R. 2009. Patterns of preglacial sedimentation and glaciotectonic deformation within early Middle Pleistocene sediments at Sidestrand north Norfolk UK. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 120 34–48.

  • Lewandowski J. & Kaziuk H. 1982. Ewolucja kopalnej sieci rzecznej region śląsko-krakowskiego [Ancient Early Pleistocene valleys in the Silesian-Cracow region]. Geological Quarterly 26 177–190 (in Polish with English summary).

  • Lewiński J. 1928. Utwory preglacjalne i glacjalne Piotrkowa i okolic [Preglacial and glacial deposits of Piotrków and surroundings]. Sprawozdania z posiedzeń Towarzystwa Naukowego Warszawskiego Wydz. III 21 49–66.

  • Mahnac A.A. (Ed.) 2002. Geology and natural resources. In: National Atlas of Belarus. Minsk pp. 35–60.

  • Marcinkowski B. & Mycielska-Dowgiałło E. 2013. Heavy-mineral analysis in Polish investigations of Quaternary deposits: a review. Geologos 19 5–24.

  • Marks L. Dzierżek J. Janiszewski R. Kaczorowski J. Lindner L. Majecka A. Makos M. Szymanek M. Tołoczko-Pasek A. & Woronko B. 2016. Quaternary stratigraphy and paleogeography of Poland. Acta Geologica Polonica 66 403–427.

  • McCann T. (Ed.) 2008. The Geology of Central Europe. Vol. 2: Mesozoic and Cenozoic. The Geological Society London. 1538 pp.

  • Mojski J.E. 2005. Ziemie polskie w czwartorzędzie [Polish area in Quaternary]. Polish Geological Institute Warszawa 404 pp.

  • Piwocki M. & Ziębińska-Tworzydło M. 1997. Neogene of the Polish Lowlands – lithostratigraphy and pollen-spore zones. Kwartalnik Geologiczny 41 21–40.

  • Piwocki M. Badura J. & Przybylski B. 2004. Neogen [Neogene]. In: Peryt T.M. & Piwocki M. (Eds): Geology of Poland. Stratigraphy. Cenozoic. Paleogene Neogene. Polish Geological Institute Warszawa 71–133.

  • Pirkle F.L. Pirkle W.A. Pirkle E.C. Rich F.J. Spangler D.P. & Pirkle D.L. 2013. Depositional environment of the heavy-mineral deposits of Bailey North Carolina U.S.A. Southeastern Geology 49 145–178.

  • Racinowski R. 2010. Główne przezroczyste minerały ciężkie w osadach czwartorzędowych Polski [Main transparent heavy minerals in Quaternary deposits]. Biuletyn Państwowego Instytutu Geologicznego 438 99–106.

  • Roman M. 2010. Preglacjalne osady rzeczne ze stanowiska Baruchowo (Kotlina Płocka) [Preglacial flvial deposits in the Baruchowo site (Płock Basin)]. Biuletyn Państwowego Instytutu Geologicznego 438 107–122.

  • Roquero E. Silva P.G. Goy J.L. Zazo C. & Massana J. 2015. Soil evolution indices in fluvial terrace chronosequences from central Spain (Tagus and Duero fluvial basins). Quaternary International 376 101–113.

  • Sarnacka Z. 1978. Plejstocen rejonu doliny Wisły między Magnuszewem i Górą Kalwarią [Pleistocene of the Wisła River valley between Magnuszew and Góra Kalwaria]. Biuletyn Instytutu Geologicznego 300 5–96.

  • Stuchlik L. 1987. Przegląd badań paleobotanicznych osadów plioceńskich i wczesnoplejstoceńskich Polski środkowej i południowej [Palaeobotanical studies of Pliocene and Early Pleistocene deposits in middle and southern Poland – review]. In: Jahn A. & Dyjor S. (Eds): Problemy młodszego neogenu i eoplejstocemu w Polsce [Problems of Late Neogene and Eopleistocene in Poland]. Ossolineum Wrocław 53–63.

  • Szujó G.L. Sebe K. Sipos G. & Pozsgai E. 2017. Pleistocene fluvial gravel in the Villány Hills (SW Hungary). Foldtani Kozlony 147 85–98.

  • Westerhoff W.E. Kemna H.A. & Boenigk W. 2008. The confluence area of Rhine Meuse and Belgian rivers: Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene fluvial history of the northern Lower Rhine Embayment. Netherland Journal of Geosciences 87 107–125.

  • Westgate J.A. Pearce G.W. Preece S.J. Schweger C.E. Morlan R.E. Pearce N.J.G. & Perkins T.W. 2013. Tephrochronology magnetostratigraphy and mammalian faunas of Middle and Early Pleistocene sediments at two sites on the Old Crow River northern Yukon Territory Canada. Quaternary Research 79 75–85.

  • Widera M. 2007. Litostratygrafia i paleotektonika kenozoiku podplejstoceńskiego Wielkopolski [Lithostratigraphy and palaeotectonics of the sub-Pleistocene Cenozoic of Wielkopolska]. Adam Mickiewicz University Press Poznań 223 pp.

  • Widera M. Kowalska E. & Fortuna M. 2017. A Miocene anastomosing river system in the area of Konin lignite mine central Poland. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae 87 157–168.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 1.19

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.306
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.937

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 123 123 3
PDF Downloads 81 81 2