Articles | Volume 13, issue 12
Clim. Past, 13, 1771–1790, 2017

Special issue: Southern perspectives on climate and the environment from...

Clim. Past, 13, 1771–1790, 2017

Research article 04 Dec 2017

Research article | 04 Dec 2017

Three distinct Holocene intervals of stalagmite deposition and nondeposition revealed in NW Madagascar, and their paleoclimate implications

Ny Riavo Gilbertinie Voarintsoa1,a, Loren Bruce Railsback1, George Albert Brook2, Lixin Wang2, Gayatri Kathayat3, Hai Cheng3,4, Xianglei Li3, Richard Lawrence Edwards4, Amos Fety Michel Rakotondrazafy5, and Marie Olga Madison Razanatseheno5 Ny Riavo Gilbertinie Voarintsoa et al.
  • 1Department of Geology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602-2501, USA
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, 30602-2502, USA
  • 3Institute of Global Environmental Change, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi 710049, P.R. China
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455, USA
  • 5Mention Sciences de la Terre et de l'Environnement, Domaine Sciences et Technologie, University d'Antananarivo, Madagascar
  • acurrent address: Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, A. Safra Campus, 91904, Jerusalem, Israel

Abstract. Petrographic features, mineralogy, and stable isotopes from two stalagmites, ANJB-2 and MAJ-5, respectively from Anjohibe and Anjokipoty caves, allow distinction of three intervals of the Holocene in NW Madagascar. The Malagasy early Holocene (between ca. 9.8 and 7.8 ka) and late Holocene (after ca. 1.6 ka) intervals (MEHI and MLHI, respectively) record evidence of stalagmite deposition. The Malagasy middle Holocene interval (MMHI, between ca. 7.8 and 1.6 ka) is marked by a depositional hiatus of ca. 6500 years.

Deposition of these stalagmites indicates that the two caves were sufficiently supplied with water to allow stalagmite formation. This suggests that the MEHI and MLHI intervals may have been comparatively wet in NW Madagascar. In contrast, the long-term depositional hiatus during the MMHI implies it was relatively drier than the MEHI and the MLHI.

The alternating wet–dry–wet conditions during the Holocene may have been linked to the long-term migrations of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). When the ITCZ's mean position is farther south, NW Madagascar experiences wetter conditions, such as during the MEHI and MLHI, and when it moves north, NW Madagascar climate becomes drier, such as during the MMHI. A similar wet–dry–wet succession during the Holocene has been reported in neighboring locations, such as southeastern Africa. Beyond these three subdivisions, the records also suggest wet conditions around the cold 8.2 ka event, suggesting a causal relationship. However, additional Southern Hemisphere high-resolution data will be needed to confirm this.

Short summary
This research has been an investigation of two stalagmites from two caves in NW Madagascar to reconstruct the region's paleoenvironmental changes, and to understand the linkage of such changes to the dynamics of the ITCZ. Stable isotopes, mineralogy, and petrography suggest wetter climate conditions than today during the early and late Holocene, when the mean ITCZ was south, and drier during the mid-Holocene when the ITCZ was north.