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Noble gas temperature reconstructions in stalagmites and new paleoclimate archives

English title Noble gas temperature reconstructions in stalagmites and new paleoclimate archives
Applicant Kipfer Rolf
Number 155891
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Wasserressourcen und Trinkwasser Eawag
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology - EAWAG
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.05.2015 - 31.10.2019
Approved amount 307'596.00
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All Disciplines (6)

Discipline
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Geochemistry
Other disciplines of Physics
Geophysics
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Oceanography

Keywords (5)

terrestrial noble gases; fluid inclusions; climate reconstruction; speleothemes; mound springs

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Rekonstruktion von Umweltbedingungen durch die Bestimmung gelöster Edelgasen in Flüssigkeitseinschlüssen von Stalagmiten
Lay summary

Tropfsteine, speziell Stalagmiten, bauen in ihrem Mineralgefüge kleinste mit Wasser gefüllte Einschlüsse ein. Daraus lassen sich Informationen gewinnen, unter welchen Umgebungsbedingungen das Wasser eingeschlossen wurde. So lassen sich u.a. aus den in den Wassereinschlüssen gelösten (atmosphärischen) Edelgasen, die Temperatur der Höhle, in der Stalagmit wuchs, bestimmen (sogenannte 'Edelgasthermometrie'). Da die Höhlentemperatur oft mit der (lokalen) mittleren Jahrestemperatur übereinstimmt und sich Stalagmiten radiometrisch sehr genau datiert können, lassen sich so aus Edelgasmessungen die Temperatur in der Vergangenheit rekonstruieren. Weiter bildet der Wassergehalt der Stalagmitenproben die Feuchtigkeitsbedingungen ausserhalb der Höhle ab. Entsprechend stellen Stalagmiten einzigartige Klimaarchive dar, besonders da Tropfsteine auch in warmen eisfreien Regionen wachsen.

Die Dissertation setzt sich zum Ziel, die Edelgasthermometrie an Fluideinschlüsse an Stalagmiten weiterzuentwickeln, so dass sich aus routine-mässig aus Edelgas- und Wassergehaltsmessungen die Umweltbedingungen während des Stalagmitenwachstums verlässlich zu rekonstruieren lassen.

Die adaptierte Methode wird eingesetzt um:

• aus Stalagmiten aus verschiedenen Schweizer Höhlen die Entwicklung der mittleren jährlichen Lufttemperatur (und ggf. auch des Niederschlagsregimes) während der letzten 200 kyr zu rekonstruieren.

• aus Stalagmiten der Arabischen Halbinsel die Klimabedingungen zu rekonstruieren, die vorherrschten, als die ersten Menschen aus Afrika nach Eurasien zogen.

• um mittels einer Pilotstudie zu versuchen, die vergangenen hydrologischen Bedingungen von Moundsprings in (Süd) Australien zu bestimmen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 26.05.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Hydrogeochemical and multi-tracer investigations of arsenic-affected aquifers in semi-arid West Africa
Bretzler Anja, Stolze Lucien, Nikiema Julien, Lalanne Franck, Ghadiri Elaheh, Brennwald Matthias S., Rolle Massimo, Schirmer Mario (2019), Hydrogeochemical and multi-tracer investigations of arsenic-affected aquifers in semi-arid West Africa, in Geoscience Frontiers, 10(5), 1685-1699.
Noble gas based temperature reconstruction on a Swiss stalagmite from the last glacial–interglacial transition and its comparison with other climate records
Ghadiri Elaheh, Vogel Nadia, Brennwald Matthias S., Maden Colin, Häuselmann Anamaria D., Fleitmann Dominik, Cheng Hai, Kipfer Rolf (2018), Noble gas based temperature reconstruction on a Swiss stalagmite from the last glacial–interglacial transition and its comparison with other climate records, in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 495, 192-201.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Dr. Dominik Fleitmann, Universität Basel, Schweiz Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Dr. Dominik Fleitmann, University of Reading (bis Frühjahr 2019) Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Andrew Love, NCGRT, Flinders University Australia (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
169911 Swiss membership in the International Scientific Continental Drilling Program ICDP 01.01.2017 Research Infrastructure
147674 STALCLIM II - Multi-proxy climatic and environmental reconstructions from stalagmites from Switzerland, Turkey, Arabia and India 01.01.2014 Sinergia
132646 STALCLIM - Multi-proxy climatic and environmental reconstructions from stalagmites from Switzerland, Turkey, Arabia and India 01.01.2011 Sinergia

Abstract

The aim of the proposed PhD project is to establish noble-gas thermometry on speleothem samples as a routine method to determine past ambient temperatures and hydrological conditions for paleoclimate research in terrestrial environments. In the last few years our group has developed a unique extraction technique that allows us to reliably determine the concentrations of noble gases dissolved in minute quantities of meteoric water stored in speleothem fluid inclusions. From these noble-gas concentrations, the temperature prevailing in the host cave at the time each of the sampled speleothem layers was growing can be easily calculated. This cave temperature corresponds closely to the long-term mean air temperature prevailing outside the cave on annual to decadal time-scales. Based on such speleothem temperature determinations, it is possible to reconstruct the evolution of regional air temperature during the period of growth of the speleothems, and to link this information to the behavior of large-scale climatic circulation patterns. Additional information about past environmental conditions can be obtained from the amount of water extracted from each sample, which is routinely quantified as an integral part of the process of measuring noble-gas concentrations. For stalagmites that grew under hot, arid conditions, the amount of water in each sample reflects the corresponding drip rate and can, in principle, be interpreted in terms of past precipitation regimes. Based on the above, we aim to apply noble-gas thermometry (always including measurements of both noble-gas concentrations and water content) to stalagmites, and also to other calcite precipitates containing inclusions filled with meteoric water, to reconstruct past temperature and hydrological conditions in Switzerland, the Arabian Peninsula, and South Australia.• Using dated stalagmites from Switzerland, we will reconstruct the evolution of air temperature, and possibly also the hydrological regime, at high temporal resolution during three major climatic transitions within the past 200 ka. Our aim is to identify potential regional differences in the climate transitions by analysing speleothems from different geographical settings in Switzerland.• By analysing stalagmites that grew during the Pleistocene epoch on the Arabian Peninsula we intend to reconstruct the environmental conditions - specifically the air temperature and the rate of precipitation - that prevailed on the Arabian Peninsula when our human ancestors migrated from Africa towards Eurasia more than 500 ka ago.• The proposed PhD thesis will be accompanied by an explorative study that will assess the potential of applying noble-gas thermometry to dated calcite precipitates from an artesian spring in South Australia, and will also assess the significance of the results in terms of past local temperature conditions and ground-water discharge rates.In order to fully exploit the potential of noble gas thermometry applied to water-bearing calcite precipitates, sample throughput has to be increased significantly and the amount of sample material required for an analysis has to be reduced. This will be achieved by adding a second extraction system to the mass spectrometer and by technically improving the existing extraction system. This will enable us to establish continuous records of past temperature and hydrological conditions at a higher temporal resolution than to date.
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