Stalagmites as archive

Speleothems as a climate archive

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Speleothems, such as stalagmites, have been used for many decades to investigate past climate changes on land. They cover long time periods (up to several hundred thousand years), are largely protected from erosion, and can be accurately dated with U-Th chronology. In many caves, the temperature is very constant throughout the year and closely reflects the mean annual outside temperature. (This needs to be confirmed for each cave by temperature monitoring).

In the past, most speleothem studies have focused on reconstructing hydroclimate (rainfall) based on the oxygen isotopic composition of the calcite. However, other proxy methods become increasingly available providing information on past temperature, the ecosystem above the cave, etc. We contribute to these exciting developments by providing fluid inclusion microthermometry as a new tool for quantitative cave temperature reconstructions.