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The 2022 AFEQ excursion took place in May in Hauts-de-France.

The AFEQ has joined forces with the Société Géologique du Nord to organize 4 scientific days, from May 18 to 21, 2022, on the Quaternary of northern France. The event organized by Laurent Deschodt (INRAP), Pierre Antoine (CNRS) and Patrick Auguste (CNRS) brought together 45 participants from various backgrounds: geologist, archaeologist, specialists in various disciplines, secondary school students and teachers. The first day was devoted to the international symposium “New data on the Eemian interglacial: northern France (Hauts-de-France) and neighboring regions” hosted by the Lilliad Learning Center of the University of Lille. The following three days were devoted to an excursion on the theme “Variabilities of Pleistocene records of the plains and plateaus: plain of the Scarpe and valley of the Somme”.

The symposium brought together 7 papers. The first two focused on the characteristics of the Eemian on a European scale, in its climatic and geochronological context, in particular with the latitudinal variations of the records (Maria-Fernanda Sanchez Goni, University of Bordeaux) or the place of the interglacial in climatic cycles, glacial extensions and Plesitocene sedimentary flows (Samuel Toucanne, Ifremer). The third presentation (Stéphane Pirson, AWAP and Université de Liège) reported on the state of knowledge and study perspectives on the Eemian in Belgium. The following three communications focused on 3 Eemian sites: an assessment of twenty years of research on the site of Caours in the Somme basin (Pierre Antoine, CNRS), the rediscovery of the site of Resson in the Aube, compared to Caours (Julie Dabkowski, CNRS, and David Hérisson, CNRS), the presentation of the Waziers site in the North (Laurent Deschodt, INRAP). They were followed by a summary on the archeology of open-air Eemian sites (Jean-Luc Locht, INRAP). The symposium ended with a rich hour of discussions, focusing in particular on the chronology of the Eemian, its climatic characteristics and comparisons between interglacials. The communications gave rise to a recording which should be made available after agreement of the communicators by the SGN.

The three-day excursion was an opportunity to present many new data on the Quaternary of northern France. The first day was devoted to the plain of the Scarpe, with the highlighting of a model inherited from the end of the Weichselian Pleniglacial: dunes, thermokarstic depressions and traces of channels. It ended with the digging of a well at Waziers which made it possible to observe the Eemian peat (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Wells dug at Waziers during the excursion, with peat and Eemian limestone silt. (photo Joan Fernández Rovira)

The second day took place around Amiens, with the presentation of a new slope sequence of more than nine meters at Morcourt detailing the Middle and Upper Pleniglacial (Fig. 2), then the presentation of work in progress, in the same locality, on the bottom of the peaty valley of the Somme.

Fig. 2: Cleaning the Morcourt section in preparation for the excursion. (Photo Sylvie Coutard)

After a visit to the reference section of Cagny-La-Garenne, the excursionists went to reinvestigate the slope record of the Weichelian Beginning of the Saint-Saufflieu glacial period (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3: Base of the Saint-Sauflieu section where several thick soils from the early Weichselian glacial stand out. (photo Stephane Pirson)

After an unfortunately too short visit to the Gravettian site of Amiens-Renancourt characterized by the presence of numerous female statuettes (Fig. 4), the day ended on the shores of the Bay of Somme.

Fig. 4: One of the Gravettian statuettes discovered at Amiens-Renancourt. (photo Stéphane Lancelot, Inrap).

The second day was devoted to the sites of the Abbeville region, with the visit of Carrière Carpentier and the evocation of the first human traces of the region with the evocation of the nearby Moulin Quignon site. Finally the excursion ended on the site of Caours with a presentation of the latest stratigraphic, biostratigraphic, paleontological, climato-isotopic, geochronological and archaeological data from the beginning of the Eemian, which make it an exceptional site on a European scale. This rich excursion took place in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

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