Cryogenic cave carbonate – a new tool for estimation of the Last Glacial permafrost depth of the Central Europe
1Institute of Geology AS CR, Prague, Czech Republic
2Institute for Geology, Mineralogy and Geophysics, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany
3Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, Heidelberg, Germany
4Institute for Geosciences, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany
5Max-Planck-Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
Abstract. Cryogenic cave carbonate (CCC) represents a specific type of speleothems, whose precipitation is triggered by freezing of mineralized karst water. Coarse-crystalline CCC, which formed during slow freezing of water in cave pools, is known in 20 Central European caves located in Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. All these caves are situated in an area, which was glacier-free during the Weichselian. Whereas the formation of usual types of speleothems in caves of this region usually ceased during glacials, CCC precipitation was restricted to glacial periods. Since CCC represents a novel, useful paleoclimate proxy, data from Weichselian CCC occurrences in caves in Central Europe were collected, including their C and O stable isotope systematics, U-series ages and depth below the surface. When using only the CCC data from caves with limited cave ventilation, the permafrost depths of the Weichselian can be estimated to be at least 65 m in the lowlands and uplands. An isolated CCC find indicates that Weichselian permafrost penetrated to a depth of at least 285 m in the High Tatra Mts., Slovakia. A model of the formation of coarse-crystalline CCC assumes its formation especially during periods of permafrost thawing. U-series data confirm that permafrost depth changed and CCC precipitation occurred repeatedly in the studied area during Marine Isotope Stages 4, 3 and 2. One important phase of CCC formation related to permafrost thawing occurred between 40 and 21 ka BP, and the last phase of its formation was related to the final permafrost destruction between 17 and 12 ka BP.