Projects Detail

Subglacial speleothems

Speleothems in caves from the Alps are an highly valuable archive of the long-term climate evolution in Europe on decadal to orbital time scales. Paradoxically, speleothem deposition in several of these cold mountain caves did not stop during glacial or stadial intervals, including even glacial maxima. In contrast, speleothems in low-elevation caves elsewhere in Europe commonly show hiatuses during cold and dry episodes of the glacial periods.
The main hypothesis that we shall test in this project is that this unexpected growth of Alpine speleothems during cold climate states is due to a combination of two factors: the presence of sulphide minerals in the karst rock and burial of the catchment by a temperate glacier.
The two main overarching objectives of this project are to unravel the processes that control speleothem deposition in subglacial settings during glacial periods, and to use these unique subglacial speleothems to expand the Alpine palaeoclimate record established by our group beyond Marine Isotope Stage 7.

FWF project no. P358770  p.i.: Christoph Spötl, duration 2023-2026

Team: Alexandre Honiat (PhD student, 2023-2026), Jon Baker (postdoc, 2023-2025)
Partners: Larry Edwards (University of Minnesota), Wolfgang Müller (Frankfurt University), Ron Pinhasi (University of Vienna), Peter Wynn (Lancaster University), Jens Fiebig (Frankfurt University), Thorsten Bauersachs (Heidelberg University), Martin Trüssel, (Stiftung Naturerbe Karst und Höhlen Obwalden)