Timing of the Saalian- and Elsterian glacial cycles and the implications for Middle – Pleistocene
hominin presence in central Europe
by Tobias Lauer & Marcel Weiss
NATURE SCIENTIFIC REPORTS (2018) 8:5111, 12 pp.
By establishing a luminescence-based chronology for fluvial deposits preserved between the Elsterian- and Saalian tills in central Germany, we obtained information on the timing of both the Middle Pleistocene glacial cycles and early human appearance in central Europe. The luminescence ages illustrate different climatic driven fluvial aggradation periods during the Saalian glacial cycle spanning from 400–150 ka. The ages of sediments directly overlying the Elsterian till are approximately 400 ka and prove that the first extensive Fennoscandian ice sheet extension during the Quaternary correlates with MIS 12 and not with MIS 10. Furthermore, the 400 ka old fluvial units contain Lower Paleolithic stone artefacts that document the first human appearance in the region. In addition, we demonstrate that early MIS 8 is a potential date for the onset of the Middle Paleolithic in central Germany, as Middle Paleolithic stone artefacts are correlated with fluvial units deposited between 300 ka and 200 ka. However, the bulk of Middle Paleolithic sites date to MIS 7 in the region. The fluvial units preserved directly under the till of the southernmost Saalian ice yield an age of about 150 ka, and enable a correlation of the Drenthe stage to late MIS 6.
Here is one of their key diagrams:
It's quite detailed. Click to enlarge. The authors confirm that the first big extension of the Fennoscandian Ice Sheet into Germany occurred in MIS12 and not MIS10, making it earlier than some others have suggested. That's the big glaciation otherwise referred to as Elsterian, Mindel or Anglian -- the one assumed to have been the GBG (Greatest British Glaciation) about which we have talked on many previous occasions. The date of this glaciation is again confirmed as around 450,000 years ago.
The climate curve is very similar, but look at the labelling of the glacial episodes. On this diagram it is the Anglian Glaciation that is shown as incorporating four discrete glacial episodes, with the Wolstonian Glaciation shown as a single glacial episode spanning the period 200,000 - 140,000 years ago.