Clastic sediments deposited in caves and rock shelters bear peculiar sedimentological characteristics and have seldom been considered as a high-resolution proxy record of climatic or environmental changes. The Romito Cave has its entrance at 275 m above sea level, about 25 km from the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria, southern Italy. New archaeological excavation performed since 2000 has revealed a sedimentary succession spanning the record of Gravettian to Late Epigravettian cultures (Late Pleistocene). The present study focuses on the lower part (2.5 m thick) of the succession, where three main unconformity-bounded stratigraphic units have been recognised (labelled RM1–3). Each unit consists of water-lain deposits indicating high-to low-competence flow, capped with anthropogenic deposits. The gradual deactivation and reactivation of the water drainage between 23475+/-190 and 16250+/-500 cal. a BP is correlated with regional precipitation changes due to the onset of dry climatic conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum. However, the deactivation of cave drainage after the deposition of unit RM3, around 15400+/-500 cal. a BP, deviates from the regional hydrological trend of progressively increasing water discharges and is attributed to the drainage cut-off by probable cave wall collapses.
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