Geology and paleoenvironment of Karin Tak Cave (Lesser Caucasus)

Avagyan A.,

Igityan H.,

Gevorgyan M.,

Sahakyan K.,

Antonosyan M.,

Tepanosyan G.,

Atalyan T.,

Grigoryan T.,

Aspaturyan N.,

Avagyan S.,

Yepiskoposyan L



Karin Tak cave is located in the south-eastern end of the Lesser Caucasus (NE of the Armenian Highland). Development of the cave was related to the dissolution of Middle-Upper Jurassic limestone by meteoric water recharge controlled by pre-existing faults and fissures beginning in the Neogene. Geophysical studies of the cave, including by ground penetrating radar, have been conducted, and a map of the pit’s walls constructed showing the extent of the roof collapse breccia and of sediment deposits on the cave floor. The collapse material consists of chaotic limestone breccia and blocks. Careful analysis of cave floor sediments allowed the Late Pleistocene palaeoenvironment in the vicinity of the cave to be reconstructed. Analyses included integrated sedimentological studies (stratigraphy, grain size analysis) together with geochemical (X-ray fluorescence) and palynological observations. Pollen studies indicate the dominance of conifers (>60 % Tsuga sp., Pinus sp.) together with Fraxinus sp. (fam. Oleaceae) and Quercus sp. (fam. Fagaceae), which indicate a cold temperate continental climate in the Late Pleistocene. Non-dramatic climate change occurred during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in the cave area, with conditions favorable for hominin activity.