We discuss the palaeoclimatic interpretation of unprecedented high-resolution micropalaeontological studies of short-term (2 to 4 centuries) interruptions within early Holocene organic-rich layer (sapropel) S1 from the eastern Mediterranean. Results for cores from the Adriatic and Aegean seas that contain 'double' S1 sapropels indicate that these interruptions, which are centred roughly around 7000 years14C(nc) BP, are genuine and related to climatic deterioration. This interpretation is endorsed by a coeval dry event recorded in terrestrial records and indications of climatic deterioration affecting human migration patterns and early societies in Egypt. The presence of sapropel interruptions in the two major source areas of deep water for the entire eastern Mediterranean likely implies that similar intervals may be found throughout the basin, provided that sedimentation rates and sampling resolutions allow the detection of events with a duration of only several centuries. Moreover, our results show that the 'sapropel mode' of circulation comprises a delicate balance between reduced ventilation and enhanced productivity, which is easily disturbed through surface water cooling triggering a short time of improved deep water ventilation.
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