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|Title:||Pleistocene Climates Determined From Stable Isotope and Geochronologic Studies of Speleothem|
|Other Titles:||Isotope and Geochronologic Studies of Speleothem|
|Advisor:||Schwarcz, Henry P.|
Ford, Derek C.
|Keywords:||temperature dependent, trace elements, calcite, magnesium, strontium, 23U/238U, 18o/16o, speleothems, paleoclimatic indicator, cold, or glacial conditions, calcite speleothems, limestone, 230Th/234U, 231Pa/230Th, groundwaters, carbon dixoide, stalagmites, carbonate deposits, stalactites, flowstones|
|Abstract:||<p> Speleothems are calcium carbonate deposits, such as stalagmites, stalactites and flowstones, formed in a cave environment by loss of carbon dioxide from saturated groundwaters. Variations in the 18o/16o ratio of calcite are related to changes in depositional temperature provided that the speleothem formed in isotopic equilibrium with its seepage water (conditions characterised by slow coloss and no evaporation of seepage water). Variations in 18o/16o of the seepage water will also be reproduced in the calcite but allowance for this effect can be made if 18o/16o ratio of the source (ocean water) can be estimated (from deep sea sediment cores) and if the influence of temperature on 18o/16o ratio of precipitation at the site can be determined. Because cave temperatures closely approximate mean annual surface temperature, the axial 18o/16o record of a speleothem is therefore an indication of paleoclimate and of temperature change over the period of its growth. </p> <p> The frequency distribution of age measurements for several speleothems from an area may also be used as a paleoclimatic indicator because cold or glacial conditions above the cave will inhibit speleothem growth by freezing water at the surface and removing vegetation and soil cover, the main source of CO2 for the limestone dissolution-reprecipitation process. </p> <p> Pure, non-porous calcite speleothems from several limestone regions have been dated in this study by the 230Th/234U method, and in cases of uranium-rich speleothems, by the 231Pa/230Th method also. For ten such cases, examined, good agreement of ages determined by both dating methods was found. </p> <p> Relatively few deposits however, have shown deposition under isotopic equilibriwn conditions, due probably to the well-ventilated nature of the caves studied. </p> <p> The age distribution for speleothem from Cascade Cave on Vancouver Island, B.C., indicates growth during the mid-Wisconsin interstadial dated as 65 -30,000 yrs. B.P. Stable isotope profiles for two speleothems which grew over this period both show values of 18o/16o ratios of calcite which are significantly lower than calcite growing in the cave today. This is the first clearly-defined record of such an occurence (in previous work, 18o/16o of fossil speleothem was generally greater than modern). Using estimates of the change in 18o/16o of ocean water from a Pacific deep sea core, and the value determined by Dansgaard (1964) for the temperature dependence of 18o/16o of precipitation for oceanic sites, a realistic paleotemperature record is derived. The results indicate that temperatures at the Cascade Cave site were about 4.0°C , 64,000 yrs. ago· and gradually declined to 0°c by 35,000 yrs. ago. These data are consistent with the findings of Canadian workers from 14c and palynological studies of fossil organic matter in the area, and do not support the proposal by some American workers of a major glaciation occurring between 35 - 40,000 yrs. B.P. </p> <p> The age distribution for 140 analyses of 82 speleothems collected from caves in north-west England show abundant deposition during the periods 130 -90,000 yrs. B.P. and 13,000 yrs. B.P. to present, with limited growth over the periods > 350 -170,000 yrs. B.P. and 70 -35,000 yrs. B.P. No ages were found to lie within the periods 170 -140,000 yrs. B.P. and 35-15,000 yrs. B.P. These intervals are correlated to the Wolstonian and Devensian glaciations respectively. </p> <p> Only four speleothems were found to have grown in isotopic equilibrium with their seepage waters, and one of these showed periods of non-equilibrium deposition. In contrast to the Vancouver Island results, 18o/16o all ratios were found to be greater than or equal to modern, indicating that the apparent oceanic location of this site is not expressed in the on the value for temperature dependence of 18o/16o precipitation. </p> <p> An oxygen isotope profile for a flowstone dated between 126,000 and 109, 000 yrs. B.P. shows 18o/16o ratios commencing at values slightly lower than for modern calcite and shifting to still lower values at about 112, 000 yrs. B.P. This shift may indicate a cooling event perhaps carrelative with the isotope stage 5e-5d transition seen in the deep sea core record. A profile for a flowstone over the period 290 -190,000 yrs. B.P. shows excellent correlation to interglacial stages 9e and 7c seen in the deep sea core record, and a pronounced growth hiatus dated at about 250 210,000 yrs. B.P. correlates with glacial stage 8. These are the first speleothem results to show a climatic record beyond 200,000 yrs. B.P. </p> <p> The differences in 18o/16o behaviour for speleothems from the two locations (N .E. Pacific and ..E. Atlantic) are interpreted in terms of their relative proximity to the ocean, potential for exchange of water vapour and 'rainout' by airmasses moving towards the cave sites, and possibility of change in meteorological conditions (principally storm track) over the periods studied. </p> <p> In a subsidiary study, evidence for major sea level lowering during the Illinoian glaciation is recognised by age determinations on the calcite core of speleothems collected at 45m below present sea level from a 'blue hole' near Andros Island in the Bahamas. </p> <p> The possibility of applying the 234U/238U dating method to speleothem is also investigated in this work, by the analysis of modern calci tes and their seepage waters, using a new method for uranium extraction from groundwater. However the variations in 234U/238U ratios observed over short distances in the same cave demonstrate that estimation of initial fossil 234U/238U in the speleothem cannot simply be made by averaging modern ratios for the cave. </p> <p> Consideration is also given to the temperature dependent distribution of trace elements in calcite, particularly magnesium and strontium. Analyses of modern calcites and waters show that Mg incorporation is strongly temperature dependent whereas Sr is not. The possibility of using Mg variations in fossil speleothem as indication of temperature change is briefly examined but the results for one sample are found to be inconclusive. </p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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