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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 3
Clim. Past, 14, 369-381, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-14-369-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Clim. Past, 14, 369-381, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-14-369-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 16 Mar 2018

Research article | 16 Mar 2018

Palaeoclimate significance of speleothems in crystalline rocks: a test case from the Late Glacial and early Holocene (Vinschgau, northern Italy)

Gabriella Koltai1, Hai Cheng2, and Christoph Spötl1 Gabriella Koltai et al.
  • 1Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck, Innrain 52, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Xi'an Jiaotong University, Institute of Global Environmental Change, 28 Xianning West Road, Xi'an 710049, Shaanxi, China

Abstract. Partly coeval flowstones formed in fractured gneiss and schist were studied to test the palaeoclimate significance of this new type of speleothem archive on a decadal-to-millennial timescale. The samples encompass a few hundred to a few thousand years of the Late Glacial and the early Holocene. The speleothem fabric is primarily comprised of columnar fascicular optic calcite and acicular aragonite, both indicative of elevated MgCa ratios in the groundwater. Stable isotopes suggest that aragonite is more prone to disequilibrium isotope fractionation driven by evaporation and prior calcite/aragonite precipitation than calcite. Changes in mineralogy are therefore attributed to these two internal fracture processes rather than to palaeoclimate. Flowstones formed in the same fracture show similar δ18O changes on centennial scales, which broadly correspond to regional lacustrine δ18O records, suggesting that such speleothems may provide an opportunity to investigate past climate conditions in non-karstic areas. The shortness of overlapping periods in flowstone growth and the complexity of in-aquifer processes, however, render the establishment of a robust stacked δ18O record challenging.

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Here we present a multi-proxy study of flowstones in fractures of crystalline rocks with the aim of assessing the palaeoclimate significance of this new type of speleothem archive. Our results indicate a high degree of spatial heterogeneity, whereby changes in speleothem mineralogy and carbon isotope composition are likely governed by aquifer-internal processes. In contrast, the oxygen isotope composition reflects first-order climate variability.
Here we present a multi-proxy study of flowstones in fractures of crystalline rocks with the aim...
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