First cosmogenic geochronology from the Lesser CaucasusLate Pleistocene glaciation and rock glacier development in the Karçal Valley, NE Turkey

Volkan Dede*, İhsan Çiçek, Mehmet Akif Sarıkaya, Attila Çiner, Levent Uncu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence of widespread alpine glaciations during the Late Pleistocene in mid-latitudes has long attracted attention of researchers. However, there were no studies that contain absolute ages in the Lesser Caucasus despite the fact that it is one of the major glaciated regions in Eurasia. Here, we present first cosmogenic 36Cl surface exposure ages from the Karçal Mountains (41.24° N, 42.06° E, 3431 m a.s.l., above sea level) which is located in the most western part of the Lesser Caucasus in the northeastern Anatolia. In the Karçal Mountains, there are numerous valleys that have experienced significant glaciations since Late Pleistocene. We have investigated one of the largest valleys, the east-facing Karçal Valley, that hosts even a small (2926 m a.s.l.) recent glacier located at above 3000 m a.s.l. Fossil and recent rock glaciers along with lateral and recessional moraines exist in the valley. We conducted the study in two stages. First, we mapped the geomorphological units in the Karçal Valley in detail based on our field works and aerial photography. Later, we collected 10 rock samples from the fossil rock glacier and recessional moraines for cosmogenic 36Cl surface exposure dating. The results outline a glacial chronology that is typical of the Last Glacial Maximum. Although the maximum extent and timing of the glaciation is not exactly known as lateral and terminal moraines were not suitable for sampling, recessional moraines indicate that the Karçal Valley palaeoglacier deglaciation started at least 19.9 ± 1.2 ka ago. Fossil rock glacier samples were dated to 15.7 ± 1.3 ka. These quantitative results are first in the Lesser Caucasus and compatible with previous ages obtained from other valleys in the nearby Eastern Black Sea region, Anatolian and some of the European Mountains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-67
Number of pages14
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Cosmogenic Cl exposure dating
  • Karçal Mountains
  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • Lesser Caucasus
  • Northeastern Anatolia
  • Recessional moraine
  • Rock glacier
  • Turkey
  • Şavşat


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