From the Caspian to Mediterranean:
Environmental Change and Human Response
during the Quaternary




WG1 Recent Ecosystems will provide information about recent ecosystems (exemplified by hard-shelled MFO) in each region to better understand the hydrological regime and ecological preferences of biota in response to environmental change. This information will be used in retrospective analyses of Quaternary ecosystems.

WG2 Palaeontology and Stratigraphy will compile existing data as well as those obtained by the Project on Quaternary MFO in QPCR STRATOTYPES and KEY BOREHOLES in each geographical region in order to establish regional stratigraphic scales. In addition to their great taxonomic and ecological potential, MFO shells are successfully used for chronometric dating and isotope analyses because shell secretion is a rapid process representing a "snapshot" of water conditions. All this enables to provide inter-correlation and synchronizanion of geological sequences and develop a high-resolution stratigraphic framework with reconstructed palaeoenvironmental conditions for the entire CORRIDOR. WG2 will be responsible for establishing reference collections for the above-mentioned organisms in each geographical region and for the entire CORRIDOR.

WG3 Vegetation, Soils, and Landscapes will compile existing pollen data sets as well as those obtained by the Project in each geographical region to create biomization models for selected time intervals over most of the Quaternary. Through inter-laboratory exchange of technology and students, the Project will try to establish a system of standardized marine palynology preparation methods and taxonomy for study of the sediments and the palynomorphs to allow future interpretations to be based on the same types of assemblages and using updated nomenclature.

WG4 Geophysics and Sequence Stratigraphy will collect available geophysical profiles obtained in different regions, to correlate erosional and ravinement surfaces as well as evidence for active tectonics in order to reconstruct and date ancient coastlines as well as level and salinity of the basins (by correlating sequence stratigraphical and biostratigraphical units).

WG5 Active Tectonics will evaluate wherever possible the role of active tectonics on sea-level change and coastal processes in each geographical region and correlate them for the entire CORRIDOR, trying to distinguish between the effects of active tectonics and those climatically-induced on coastline changes.

WG6 Archaeology and Ethnography will collect and correlate information on human adaptation to environmental change, to determine prospective areas for new archaeological sites, including submerged ones, thus contributing to the SPLASHCOS project, and to create a database of archaeological evidence (stone tools, settlements, dwellings, hearths, human remains, ritual and artistic objects, etc.) thus far obtained from the CORRIDOR.

WG7 Palaeoanthropology will summarize and correlate available information about early humans (Homo erectus, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens sapiens) in the entire CORRIDOR since 1.8 Ma ago in order to trace the ancestry of AMH and test the hypothesis that stages of human morphogenesis correlate with global environmental and climatic change in the region.

WG8 Palaeogeography and Palaeoenvironment will summarize the data obtained by WG 1 to 7 in order to distil the contribution of environmental change to the development of humankind by cross-disciplinary and cross-regional correlation of geological, archaeological, environmental, and palaeoanthropological records for the entire CORRIDOR.

MWG9 Modeling of Climate Change will examine the role of climatic factors in sea-level changes expressed in transgressive and regessive events, with particular attention to extreme Karangatian and Khvalynian transgressions in the Black and Caspian Sea, respectively, as well as a major regression in the Black Sea at LGM; highlight the role of global climate change and the manifestation of regional features; study the genesis of transgressive and regressive events of all sizes.

MWG9 Modeling of Sea-Level Change will elaborate GIS-aided mathematical models that would describe through mathematical equations the processes of water exchange in the connecting straits; sea-level and salinity fluctuations in the Ponto-Caspian and Marmara basins in relation to those in the Mediterranean Sea; transformations of river-beds by erosional processes; freshwater balance (evaporation vs. precipitation); and evolution of ecosystems under different climate change scenarios.

MWG11 Modeling of Environmental Change and Human Dispersal will create a generalized overview of interrelations between environmental change and human dispersal in the CORRIDOR. A similar approach was undertaken by IGCP 521, when a Pan-European modeling of the Neolithic significantly contributed to our understanding of the Neolithization of Europe. The model will apply specific mathematical data processing methods, statistical correlation, as well as computer modeling and visualization – to correlate the spatial and chronological distribution of flint knapping, tool production, dwellings and household structures (storage pits, hearths, ovens, etc.), as well as ritual and portable art objects in connection with the origin and dissemination of non-utilitarian forms of human activity of different representatives of the genus Homo with environmental factors. This in turn will demonstrate how prehistoric humans adapted to environmental changes. Correlation of spatial distribution of prehistoric archaeological sites with landscape will demonstrate coastal lifeways among human groups and their exploitation of resources in the region.

SWG12 GIS-aided Interactive Web-Database will develop and maintain an ITS (Information Technology Services) system that combines Project data sets using a cartographic background to produce a unified, constantly updated, Web-database Geoinformation System that will consolidate research to date and serve all Project WGs. The ITS system will be hosted on OS X based Macintosh Xserve servers running Apache (web server), MySQL 4.1 (database), and Lasso Professional 8.5 (middleware). Development of an open application will enable scientists around the world to preview and publish research data on the CORRIDOR. Simultaneously, the database will provide a retrospective that creates a foundation for contemporary environmental monitoring, observation, and education. Interactive use will allow each participant to find palaeoenvironmental data for certain time slices from 1.8 Ma BP to the present in a variety of geographical localities. By "paging" through the time slices, it will be possible to see how societies and cultures moved, disappeared, and reappeared in response to shifts in environmental conditions during most of the Quaternary.

Wesite Design: Dr. H. Peter Hombach and Dr. Irena Motnenko, Avalon Institute of Applied Science