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

Gabriella Koltai, Hai Cheng, Christoph Spötl

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4 Scopus citations


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 MggCa 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 18O changes on centennial scales, which broadly correspond to regional lacustrine 18O 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 18O record challenging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-381
Number of pages13
JournalClimate of the Past
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. This project was supported by the Au-tonome Provinz Bozen-Südtirol (no. 16/40.3). Daniela Schmidmair is acknowledged for XRD analyses and Kathleen Wendt for linguistic help and valuable comments. We thank Ian J. Fairchild, Dana C. Riechelmann and an anonymous reviewer for constructive and thorough comments that greatly helped to improve the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) 2018.


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