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Research and teaching centre
environmental geosciences
Research and teaching centre
environmental geosciences

Climate-Human-Environment Interactions

The aim of this theme is to understand the impact that past climates may have had on societies, and conversely the more recent impact of human activity on environments.
As a result, the ANR NEHOSfunded in 2022 and supported by Thibaut DevièseThe aim of this project is to precisely date the transition from Neanderthals to Homo sapiens in Europe and to assess the temporal and causal relationships between palaeoenvironmental changes and the first human populations. We are also studying the potential anthropogenic signature on the dynamics of ancient forests and savannahs in tropical Africa as part of theANR PAST-17by combining the analysis of sedimentary charcoals, phytolith and pollen assemblages, and the 17O-excess of phytoliths. The early communities of agropastoralists in France and the Mediterranean, and in particular the role of women, are at the heart of the project. ANR WomenSOFar (2022-2026; supported at CEREGE by Guillaume Leduc). The aim of this project is to understand how women eat, get around, look after the young and take part in the activities necessary for the survival of these communities.
Our work on the archaeological time scale benefits from our developments in radiocarbon dating using the spectrometer AixMICADAS which enables archaeological wood to be dated accurately using a wiggle-matching technique combining 14C with dendrochronology (ARKAIA Chrono-Ignis project, funded in 2022 and led at CEREGE by Edouard Bard). As part of a collaborative project between chairs at the Collège de France, since 2016 we have been developing a robust and accurate method for dating collagen micro-samples, applied to human remains from European Palaeolithic sites. For highly contaminated samples, we are developing an even more effective method for dating hydroxyproline, one of the main amino acids in collagen. We are also developing new 'green' analytical methods (LGO2i platform), which considerably reduce the consumption of organic solvents, which are toxic and polluting (project EcoSCience supported by Thibaut Devièse).
On more recent time scales, we are studying the presence and impact of microplastics in the Bay of Marseille and the lake environments of south-eastern France. This approach uses expertise and methods applied in oceanography and micropalaeontology and is supported by Laurence Vidal in partnership with the Institut Carnot Eau & Environnement (PLASMA Project, 2022-2025). In the same regional project, the impact of recent anthropogenic changes on biomineral plankton (mainly coccolithophores and diatoms) is being analysed using machine-learning methods developed in the team, on particle traps in collaboration with OSU Pythéas laboratories (A*Midex RapMed project, 2020-2023, coordinated by Thibault de Garidel). Longer-term trends in the response of calcareous plankton on a global scale are being analysed through a synthesis of historical trends in the biodiversity of planktonic foraminifera (FORCIS 2020-2024 project, involving FRB and MPI Mainz), which will soon be extended to pteropods. We are also studying fine atmospheric particles produced naturally or by human activities, in particular flows of pyrogenic compounds into the Mediterranean (project ANR FIRETRAC 2021-2025 supported at CEREGE by Edouard Bard). The origins of these particles can be determined by measuring the 14C content of micro-samples to quantify the fossil carbon content of carbonaceous pollution of various origins.

Projects

  • 2023-2026 : ANR NéHos
    From Neanderthal to Homo sapiens - Understanding cultural (r)evolution in Palaeolithic Europe
  • 2023-2027 : ANR PAST-17
    Quantitative reconstruction of past hydroclimates: the triple oxygen isotopic composition (17O-excess) of biogenic silica in perspective
  • 2022-2026 : ANR WomenSoFar
    Life trajectories and status of women in the early apos-agriculture. Bioarchaeological perspectives in the French and Mediterranean prehistoric context
  • 2021-2025 : ANR FIRETRAC
    Impact and Fate of biomass burning and wildfiRe-producEd atmospheric particles in the MediterRanean wAters using Carbon stable isotopes, radiocarbon dating, and modeling
  • 2021-2025 : PLASMA
    Temporal and spatial dynamics of microplastics in the bay of Marseille: experimental approach and link with modelling
  • 2021-2023: EcoSCience, The objective of the ecoSCience project is to develop new analytical methods for a greener environmental science
  • 2017-2021: ANR CARBOTRYDH, High resolution study of radiocarbon in Tree-Ring sequences from the Younger Dryas event and early Holocene in the southern French Alps