Projects Detail

Cryogenic cave carbonates in the Alps

Alpine permafrost thaw events during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene

Understanding the long-term dynamics of mountain permafrost is fundamental to quantify processes affecting the alpine landscape evolution. The goal of this project is to reconstruct Alpine permafrost thaw events during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene based on accurately dated cryogenic cave carbonates (CCCcoarse). These peculiar types of speleothems have recently emerged as one of the most promising archive for past hydrology in frozen karst systems but have only rarely been documented in the Alps. Understanding the complex processes controlling the formation of CCCcoarse requires a systemic approach integrating climatological, hydrological, geochemical, glaciological and bacteriological processes. A combination of long-term cave monitoring and analysis of in-situ precipitated carbonates will provide the conceptual framework for the interpretation and spatial extrapolation of accurately dated CCCcoarse. Eventually, we seek to provide the very first chronology of permafrost melt phases in the Alps in response to regional climate events.

Researchers: Christoph Spötl, Gabriella Koltai (our group), Marc Luetscher (SISKA)
Partner: Hai Cheng, Haiwei Zhang (Xi'an Jiaotong University)
Duration: 2020-2023

Recent publications:
Spötl et al. (2021)
Koltai et al. (2021)
Colucci et al. (2017)
Spötl & Cheng (2014)

Luetscher et al. (2013)