Geologist, specialising in the geoarchaeology of karstic sites
She is a senior lecturer at the University of Bordeaux, within the Earth Sciences and Environment Unit and part of the UMR 5199 PACEA "From prehistory to the present, Culture, Environment, Anthropology".
In the 1980s, she formed part of the French expedition to Bulgaria, where she took part in the study of the environmental context of the Palaeolithic settlements in the north-west of the country, based on two reference deposits - the caves of Temnata and Kozarnika. In France, she carried out the geoarchaeological study of different Palaeolithic sites (Artenac, Brassempouy, Bourouilla, Troubat) and several decorated caves (Bédeilhac, Pergouset, Pech Merle, Gargas).
She joined the Chauvet Cave scientific team in 2000. She took part in the drawing up of the geological forms and formations atlas, based on which the main stages of the speleogenesis were recognised. The stratigraphic and sedimentological studies carried out in collaboration with B. Kervazo and E. Debard enabled researchers to provide details on the animal and human occupation and on the aspect of the cave when this took place. With these same two colleagues, in 2006, she developed the taphonomic approach to decorated walls. This work concerns the relations existing between the technical choices of the artists and the characteristics of the medium, together with the processes that affected the works of art after they were painted. In this field, the most remarkable results were in the impact produced on the walls and the ceilings by large fires from the time of the Aurignacian habitation, and whose purpose remains unknown for now.
Catherine applies the experience gained at the Chauvet-Pont d’Arc Cave to the study of other decorated sites such as Cussac and Comarque in Dordogne. She contributes to and participates in numerous research projects, financed by the Regional Council of Aquitaine, LabEx LaScArBx, IdEx in Bordeaux and the CNRS, drawn up to address the questions raised when studying Chauvet Cave.