Past rainfall and trace element variations in a tropical speleothem from India
Keywords:Speleothems, Stable isotopes, Trace elements, Tropical climate, Palaeomonsoon
An actively growing stalagmite (cave deposit) was collected in 1996 from the Dandak cave in Madhya Pradesh. Trace elements Mg, Sr and Ba were measured in order to asses their palaeoclimatic significance. More than 100% variations in the concentrations of trace elements have been observed during the growth period. The chemical and physical properties of the trace elements along with the data of stable isotope ratios of exygen and carbon from our earlier work has been discussed in this paper. Ratio of Ba to Sr concentrations has remained constant suggesting that the soil layers and bedrock dissolution have contributed the same proporation of trace elements to the cave seepage water. Slowly varying components in the Mg, Sr and Ba concentrations and profiles show high degrees of correlations. It is found that changes in the trace elements are mainly driven by the varying intensity of past rainfall. Trace element variations of speleothems in tropical regions can be used as indicators of the past rainfall intensities. Different climatic intervals are characterised based on trace elements and stable isotoes. Period 3700 to 3350 yr BP was found to be arid. High rainfall was observed between 3350 to 3200 yr BP. After a hiatus period of 2000 yr due to non-climate dependent proceses, again a high rainfall phase between 1200 to 400 yr BP was observed with a peak level at ~200 yr BP and a short arid phase at ~90 yr BP was also observed.
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