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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 19 Sep 2019

Submitted as: research article | 19 Sep 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Climate Induced Speleothem Radiocarbon Variability on Socotra Island from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Younger Dryas

Steffen Therre1, Jens Fohlmeister2,3, Dominik Fleitmann4, Albert Matter5, Stephen J. Burns6, Jennifer Arps1, Andrea Schröder-Ritzrau1, Ronny Friedrich7, and Norbert Frank1 Steffen Therre et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2Institute of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section Climate Dynamics and Landscape Development, Potsdam, Germany
  • 4Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  • 5Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  • 6Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA
  • 7Curt-Engelhorn-Center Archaeometry gGmbH, Mannheim, Germany

Abstract. In this study, the dead carbon fraction (DCF) variations in stalagmite M1-5 from Socotra Island in the western Arabian Sea were investigated through a new set of high-precision U-series and radiocarbon (14C) dates. The data reveal an extreme case of very high and also climate dependent DCF values. For M1-5 an average DCF of 56.2 ± 3.4 % is observed between 27 and 18 kyr BP. Such high DCF values indicate a high influence of aged soil organic matter (SOM) and nearly completely closed system carbonate dissolution conditions. Towards the end of the last glacial period decreasing Mg/Ca ratios suggest an increase in precipitation which caused a marked change in the soil carbon cycling as indicated by sharply decreasing DCF. This is in contrast to the relation of soil infiltration and reservoir age observed in stalagmites from temperate zones. For Socotra Island, which is influenced by the East African–Indian monsoon, we propose that more humid conditions and enhanced net-infiltration after the LGM led to denser vegetation and thus lowered the DCF by increased 14CO2 input into the soil zone. The onset of the Younger Dryas (YD) is represented in the record by the end of DCF decrease with a sudden change to much higher and extremely variable reservoir ages. Our study highlights the dramatic variability of soil carbon cycling processes and vegetation feedback on Socotra Island manifested in stalagmite reservoir ages on both long-term trends and sub-centennial timescales, thus providing evidence for climate influence on stalagmite radiocarbon. This is of particular importance for studies focussing on 14C calibration and atmospheric reconstruction through stalagmites which relies on largely climate independent soil carbon cycling above the cave.

Steffen Therre et al.
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Steffen Therre et al.
Data sets

U-series and radiocarbon dating results of stalagmite M1-5 from Moomi Cave, Socotra Island. PANGAEA S. Therre, J. Fohlmeister, D. Fleitmann, A. Matter, S. J. Burns, J. Arps, A. Schröder-Ritzrau, R. Friedrich, and N. Frank

Steffen Therre et al.
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Short summary
The radiocarbon (14C) levels of a stalagmite (grown 27–11 kyr before today) from Socotra Island (Arabian Sea) show drastic changes across the last termination. Our study highlights the influence of a warming climate with increasing precipitation towards the ending glacial on stalagmite 14C. High resolution measurements suggest 14C is linked to a denser vegetation coverage on the island. Stalagmite 14C can therefore be used as a climate tracer on millennial to sub-centennial time scales.
The radiocarbon (14C) levels of a stalagmite (grown 27–11 kyr before today) from Socotra Island...