2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM

Cave Monitoring and Calibration of a δ18O – Climate Transfer Function in Gibraltar

MATTEY, David, Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham Hill, Egham, TW20 0EX, United Kingdom, ATKINSON, Tim, Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, Gowar Street, London, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom, FAIRCHILD, Ian, GEES (School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences), University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom and FISHER, Matt, Environmental Research, ANSTO, PMB1, Menai, NSW, 2234, Australia, mattey@gl.rhul.ac.uk

Cave sites on the Gibraltar peninsula provide a unique opportunity to calibrate speleothem climate proxies with long instrumental records extending back to 1792. An actively growing speleothem (Gib04a) sampled from New St. Michaels Cave in 2004 possesses exceptionally well defined δ13C and δ18O cycles that correlate with trace elements and paired fabrics. Monthly monitoring of microclimate, pCO2, drip rate and drip water chemistry provides compelling evidence that the fabric, isotope and trace element cycles preserved in the speleothem are annual features, and linked to specific seasons in the calendar year, and that cave ventilation, rather than water excess, is the main factor in controlling calcite precipitation. The cause of δ18O cyclicity in speleothem calcite is a result of both annual recharge and evaporation effects but monitoring shows that drip water with lowest δ18O arriving at the Gib04a drip site in late spring is the best proxy representing the isotopic composition of the new season's winter rain. An age model based on δ13C cycle counting and the position of the 14C bomb carbon spike yields a precisely dated winter oxygen isotope proxy of cave seepage water for comparison with the GNIP and instrumental climate record for Gibraltar from 1951-2004. The δ18O of reconstructed winter drip water shows an encouraging level of correspondence (r2=0.47) with the δ18O of rainfall falling each year between October and March. Work in progress is examining the inter-annual variation in the δ18O of Gibraltar rainfall using modern regression methods on annual, monthly and daily resolution data (collected since 2005), to better understand the climatic significance of the winter rainfall δ18O record in Gibraltar speleothem records.