Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2024-48
https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-2024-48
01 Jul 2024
 | 01 Jul 2024
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal CP.

Spatio-temporal dynamics of speleothem growth and glaciation in the British Isles

Sina Panitz, Michael Rogerson, Jack Longman, Nick Scroxton, Tim J. Lawson, Tim C. Atkinson, Vasile Ersek, James Baldini, Lisa Baldini, Stuart Umbo, Mahjoor A. Lone, Gideon M. Henderson, and Sebastian F. M. Breitenbach

Abstract. Reconstructing the spatio-temporal dynamics of glaciations and permafrost largely relies on surface deposits, and is therefore a challenge for every glacial older than the last due to erosion. Consequently, glaciations and permafrost remain poorly constrained worldwide before c. 30 ka. Since speleothems (carbonate cave deposits) form from drip water and generally indicate the absence of an ice sheet and permafrost, we evaluate how speleothem growth phases defined by U-series dates align with past glacial-interglacial cycles. Further, we make the first systematic comparison of the spatial distribution of speleothem dates with independent reconstructions of the history of the British-Irish Ice Sheet (BIIS) to test how well geomorphologic ice reconstructions are replicated in the cave record.

The frequency distribution of 1,020 U-series dates based on three different dating methods between 300 and 5 ka shows statistically significant periods of speleothem growth during the last interglacial and several interstadials during the last glacial. A pronounced decline in speleothem growth coincides with the Last Glacial Maximum, before broad reactivation during deglaciation and into the Holocene.

Spatio-temporal patterns in speleothem growth between 31 and 15 ka agree well with the surface-deposit-based reconstruction of the last BIIS. In data-rich regions, such as northern England, ice dynamics are well-replicated in the cave record, which provide additional evidence about the spatio-temporal distribution of permafrost dynamics. Beyond the Last Glacial Maximum, the distribution of speleothem dates across the British Isles offers the opportunity to improve chronological constraints on past ice sheet variability, with evidence for a highly dynamic Scottish ice sheet during the last glacial. The results provide independent evidence of ice distribution complementary to studies of surface geomorphology and geology, and the potential to extend reconstructions into permafrost and earlier glacial cycles. Whilst undersampling is currently the main limitation for speleothem-based ice and permafrost reconstruction even in relatively well-sampled parts of the British Isles, we show that speleothem dates obtained using modern mass spectrometry techniques reveal a higher spatio-temporal resolution of glacial-interglacial cycles and glacial extent than previously possible. Further study of leads and lags in speleothem growth compared to surface deposition may provide new insights into landscape-scale dynamics during ice sheet growth and retreat.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Sina Panitz, Michael Rogerson, Jack Longman, Nick Scroxton, Tim J. Lawson, Tim C. Atkinson, Vasile Ersek, James Baldini, Lisa Baldini, Stuart Umbo, Mahjoor A. Lone, Gideon M. Henderson, and Sebastian F. M. Breitenbach

Status: open (until 26 Aug 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on cp-2024-48', Andy Baker, 10 Jul 2024 reply
Sina Panitz, Michael Rogerson, Jack Longman, Nick Scroxton, Tim J. Lawson, Tim C. Atkinson, Vasile Ersek, James Baldini, Lisa Baldini, Stuart Umbo, Mahjoor A. Lone, Gideon M. Henderson, and Sebastian F. M. Breitenbach
Sina Panitz, Michael Rogerson, Jack Longman, Nick Scroxton, Tim J. Lawson, Tim C. Atkinson, Vasile Ersek, James Baldini, Lisa Baldini, Stuart Umbo, Mahjoor A. Lone, Gideon M. Henderson, and Sebastian F. M. Breitenbach

Viewed

Total article views: 216 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
158 52 6 216 3 2
  • HTML: 158
  • PDF: 52
  • XML: 6
  • Total: 216
  • BibTeX: 3
  • EndNote: 2
Views and downloads (calculated since 01 Jul 2024)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 01 Jul 2024)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 192 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 192 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
1
 
 
 
 
Latest update: 17 Jul 2024
Download
Short summary
Reconstructions of past glaciations tell us about how ice sheets grow and retreat. In this study, we use speleothems (cave deposits, e.g., stalagmites) in the British Isles to help constrain the extent of past glaciations both in time and space. Speleothems require liquid water to grow, and therefore, their presence indicates the absence of ice above the cave. By dating these speleothems we can improve existing reconstructions of past ice sheets.