We compared the soils and the loess from the last interglacial and the lower and middle Welchselian in four sequences in central Europe. They are Achenheim in Alsace (France), Wallertheim in Rheinhessen (western Germany), and Burgtona and Korner, both in Thuringia (eastern Germany). Studied sections were correlated by lithostratigraphy and thermoluminesccnce dating. Our results suggest that the "marker" dust layer detected in Achenheim is coeval with the PK II marker bed in Bohemia and Moravia. Thus the loess sequences in the southwestern part of central Europe call be stratigraphically correlated with the key sections in the southeastern part of central Europe. Loess sections in the Thuringian Basin compare better with the northwestern loess province of central Europe rather than with the drier eastern one. This link remained largely unnoticed in the past decades, possibly due to the political separation of Germany. Thermoluminescence dating suggests that in the eastern as well as in the western part of the studied area the first buried Bt-horizon does not necessarily belong to the last interglacial (generally correlated with the marine isotope stage (MIS) 5e), but that in some locations might have developed as late as in the substage MIS 5a. The results also suggest that not all of the chernozem-like humic steppe soils predating the Late Glacial date from the lower Welchselian warm interstadials of MIS 5, but may as well have developed in relatively warm continental climates during the interstadials of the middle Welchselian during oceanic stage MIS 3.
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