People at Fort Hoofddijk

Nicole van Vugt
Dr. N van Vugt
PhD 1995-2000
Now at:
Shell Exploration & Production International Centre, Rijswijk, The Netherlands

Contact Nicole at: 

My PhD Thesis

Research of Nicole van Vugt

High-resolution continental-marine correlations: 
a comprehensive palaeomagnetic study 
It is well accepted these days that the earth’s long term climate is controlled by orbital cycles. By understanding the past cyclic climate, we might ultimately be able to make better predictions about future climate effects.

The past climate is recorded by sediment layers accumulating at the bottom of the sea, like an actors movements by a series of pictures on a motion film.

On Sicily, for example, one can find the Punta di Maiata, a white cliff with beautiful beige and grey layers, representing the precessional cycles (21.000-year period) in the Mediterranean climate.

For a different record of the past climate, one can look at continental sediments e.g. from an ancient lake or river bed. 

In such small scale environments, climatic effects might have more impact than in large oceanic basins. On the other hand, local effects, caused by e.g. tectonism or biological events, may disturb the climate signal.
This project was started to study these effects by comparing continental and marine sediment layers with exactly the same age. 

Scientists from different disciplines have worked closely together in this program.

The lacustrine Ptolemais basin

The multi-disciplinary research started in the brown coal mines of Ptolemais, Northern Greece. 

With magnetostratigraphy it is proven that the black-and-white couplets represent precession, just like the grey-beige layers in Punta di Maiata. 
By correlating the black-and-white layers to an astronomical variable (summer-insolation), it is now possible to compare individual continental layers from Ptolemais with simultaneously deposited marine layers from Sicily.
To study the recording mechanism of climate in different sedimentary environments, a cross section through different continental and marine palaeoenvironments is made. 
The Pliocene fluviatile- lacustrine basin fill near Apolakkia on the island of Rhodes (Greece), for example, has distinct grey layers that might or might not represent orbital cycles. 

Magnetostratigraphy has been  used to examine this.

The lower Pliocene marine deposits on Milos, Greece consist of silty marls with intercalated sapropels (the dark layers in the picture). 

Both magnetostratigraphy and biostratigraphy indicate an age beytween ~ 4.6 and 3.8 Ma.

Astronomical tuning of the sapropel pattern confirms these ages.

In the Pleistocene deposits in the Megalopolis Basin (Greece), lignite seams occur every 100.000 years.

Smaller scale cycles divide the main lignite seams into smaller beds that probably represent precession.

Questions that have been addressed in all these settings are on:
1. The age and timing of the lithological layers, and determining a possible astronomically induced climatic forcing.
2. Bed-to-bed correlation with sequences from the marine realm, and with other continental lacustrine sections (e.g. in Romania).

Notio section, Ptolemais Punta di Maiata, Sicily

back to the research topics

publications Publications of Nicole van Vugt
  • Van Hinsbergen, D.J.J., Krijgsman, W., Langereis, C.G., Cornée, J.-J., Duermeijer, C.E. and van Vugt, N., 2007, Discrete Plio-Pleistocene phases of tilting and counterclockwise rotation in the southeastern Aegean arc (Rhodos; Greece): early Pliocene formation of the south Aegean left-lateral strike-slip system, Journal of the Geological Society of London 164, 1133-1144
  • Snel, E., Marunteanu, M., Macalet, R., Meulenkamp, J.E., Van Vugt, N. (2006). Late Miocene to Early Pliocene chronostratigraphic framework for the Dacic Basin, Romania, Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol., 238, 107-124. 
  • Okuda, M., Van Vugt, N., Nagakawa, T., Ikeya, M., Hayashida, A., Yasuda, Y. and Setoguchi, T. (2000). Palynological evidence for the astronomical origin of lignite-detritus sequence in the Middle Pleistocene Marathousa Member, Megalopolis, SW Greece. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 201, 143-157
  • Van Vugt, N., Langereis, C.G. and Hilgen, F.J. (2001). Orbital forcing in Pliocene-Pleistocene Mediterranean lacustrine deposits: dominant expression of eccentricity versus precession, Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol., 172, 193-205.   
  • Van Vugt, N. (2000). Orbital forcing in late Neogene lacustrine basins from the Mediterranean. A magnetostratigraphic and cyclostratigraphic study. (PhD thesis, Utrecht University), Geologica Ultraiectina, 189, 167 pp.   [PDF entire thesis or link to individual chapters]
  • Steenbrink, J.,  Van Vugt, N., Kloosterboer-Van Hoeve, M.L. and Hilgen, F.J. (2000). Refinement of the Messinian APTS from sedimentary cycle patterns in the lacustrine Lava section (Servia Basin, NW Greece),  Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 181, 161-173.   
  • Hilgen, F.J., Abdul Aziz, H., Krijgsman, W., Langereis, C.G., Lourens, L.J., Meulenkamp, J.E., Raffi, I., Steenbrink, J., Turco, E., Van Vugt, N., Wijbrans, J.R. and Zachariasse, W.J. (1999). Present status of the astronomical (polarity) time-scale for the Mediterranean late Neogene, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A, 357, 1-17.
  • Steenbrink, J., Van Vugt, N., Hilgen, F.J., Wijbrans, J.R. and Meulenkamp, J.E. (1999). Sedimentary cycles and volcanic ash beds in the lower Pliocene lacustrine succession of Ptolemais (NW Greece): Discrepancy between 40Ar/39Ar and astronomical ages, Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 152, 283-303.   
  • Duermeijer, C.E., Van Vugt, N., Langereis, C.G., Meulenkamp, J.E. and Zachariasse, W.J. (1998). A major late Tortonian rotation phase of the Crotone Basin using AMS as tectonic tilt correction and timing of the opening of the Tyrrhenian Basin, Tectonophysics, 287, 233-249.
  • Van Vugt, N., Steenbrink, J., Langereis, C.G., Hilgen, F.J. and Meulenkamp, J.E. (1998). Sedimentary cycles in the early Pliocene lacustrine sediments of Ptolemais (NW Greece) correlated to insolation and to the marine Rossello section (S. Italy), Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 164, 535-551.