A speleothem record of glacial (25-11.6 kyr BP) rapid climatic changes from northern Iberian Peninsula

Ana Moreno, Heather Stoll, Montserrat Jiménez-Sánchez, Isabel Cacho, Blas Valero-Garcés, Emi Ito, Larry Edwards

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Low and high frequency climatic fluctuations in northern Iberian Peninsula during the last glacial maximum (LGM) and deglaciation are documented in a stalagmite using δ18O and δ13C and hydrologically sensitive trace metal ratios Mg/Ca and Ba/Ca. U/Th dating indicates speleothem growth commenced at 25 kyr BP (Present = year 1950) and extended to 11.6 kyr BP making this one of few European speleothem growing during the last glacial period. Rapid climatic fluctuations as Heinrich event 2 (H2) and Greenland Interstadial (GI-) 2 are well characterized in this record by more arid and cold conditions and by more humid conditions, respectively. Speleothem growth ceased from 18.2 to 15.4 kyr BP (the so-called Mystery Interval) likely reflecting the driest and potentially coldest conditions of this record, coincident with the 2 kyr duration shutdown of the North Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC). A major gradual increase in humidity and possibly in temperature occurred from 15.5 to 13.5 kyr BP, beginning in the Bølling and culminating in the Allerød period. This gradual humidity change contrasts with more abrupt humidity shifts in the Mediterranean, suggesting a different climate threshold for Mediterranean vs. Atlantic margin precipitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-231
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Maria Pumariega, cave supervisor, and the Asturian Ministry of Culture for permission to sample in Pindal Cave. This project was supported by a grant from the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (CAVECAL: MEC CGL2006-13327-Co4-02 to HMS) and GRACCIE-Consolider ( CSD2007-00067 ). We acknowledge fellowships to A. Moreno from the European Comission's Sixth Framework Program (Marie Curie Fellowship 021673 IBERABRUPT) and from the Spanish Ministry of Science (“Ramón y Cajal” program) and H. Stoll from the Spanish Ministry of Science cofunded by the European Social Fund and an instrumentation grant to H. Stoll from the Asturian Comission of Science and Technology (FICYT) cofinanced by the European Regional Development Funds. We thank M. Prieto for access to laboratory instrumentation at the University of Oviedo and M. Prieto, D. Katsikopoulos for discussion. Joaquín Perona (UB-SCT) and Maniko Solheid (University of Minnesota) are acknowledged for help with the stable isotopes measurements, M. J. Domínguez-Cuesta for her help with Fig. 1 and D. Genty, L. de Abreu and F. Naughton for kindly providing their data.


  • Marine Isotope Stage 2
  • last deglaciation
  • northern Iberian Peninsula
  • rapid climate change
  • speleothems
  • stable isotopes
  • trace elements


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