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Quaternary volcanic signatures in high-resolution stalagmite trace element datasets

PAINE, ALICE,RUBY (2021) Quaternary volcanic signatures in high-resolution stalagmite trace element datasets. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Identification and analysis of tephra preserved in paleoenvironmental sequences can provide key insights into the characteristics and consequences of explosive volcanism. Notable evidence gaps in the Quaternary eruption record confounds the ability to link volcanism to impacts on climate and terrestrial environments, yet studies suggest that geochemical analysis of high-resolution stalagmite records can address these gaps, through detection of transient enrichments associated with incorporation of volcanogenic trace elements, and perturbation of regional hydroclimate by volcanic forcing. However, the mechanisms controlling deposition and preservation of eruption signals in stalagmites are poorly understood. Here, Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is applied to two stalagmite trace element datasets: the first (NIED08-05 – 0-3 ka BP) from Niedźwiedzia Cave (SW Poland) to detect volcanic ash fall events; and the second (DIM-3 – 70-90 ka BP) from Dim Cave (South Turkey) to assess the climatological impact of super-volcanism during the Last Glacial Period. Results suggest that volcanic eruptions do have the capacity to influence stalagmite geochemistry, however notable limitations are evident. Discrepancies in the NIED05-05 record appear linked to regional climate, karst hydrology, sequence growth rate, depth, and cave ventilation - all impeding direct incorporation of volcanic material into the stalagmite. Conversely, poor chronological control of eruption dates and complexities associated with the pacing, duration, and characteristics of stadial-interstadial transitions in the Eastern Mediterranean restricts interpretation of the DIM-3-A record. Effective use of stalagmites in paleo-volcanology requires further work to constrain the absolute timing of individual eruption events, and better understand the expression of volcanic-induced climate change during the late Pleistocene. By quantifying the environmental processes acting to either enhance or attenuate the preservation of volcanic signals, we can gain a better indication of which karst conditions most effectively preserve the signals generated by explosive volcanism. Ultimately, prioritizing analysis of these stalagmites in paleo-volcanology may consequently provide an interpretive framework for linking the timing of eruption events with other global paleo-environmental archives to construct robust regional tephrochronologies, improve Holocene eruption dating, and constrain regional climate transitions using volcanic events as time-stratigraphic markers.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Science
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Earth Sciences, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 Feb 2021 09:06

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