PAST TOPOGRAPHY AS KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE EVOLUTION OF LANDSCAPES AND LIFE (Invited Presentation)
Stable isotope paleoaltimetry relies on the systematic decrease in the heavy isotope (18O or D) of precipitation due to cooling of air parcels and associated condensation of water vapor during uplift. The resulting oxygen (δ18O) or hydrogen (δD) isotope-elevation relationships are frequently robust and permit to relate δ18O or δD of past rainfall to changes in surface elevation and rainfall seasonality.
Here we present δ18O , δ13C and clumped isotope (Δ47) temperature data from the central European Alps (Switzerland) as well as the Anatolian plateau (Turkey) to identify the interactions of regional surface uplift and (global) climate change on paleo-environmental conditions during the Miocene (tectonic) history of both regions.
Our data highlight the need for robust low-elevation δ18O reference data that permit to evaluate differences in δ18O between low and high elevation sites and assess the impact of changes in rainfall seasonality as a response to global climate change or regional attainment of elevation-driven threshold conditions to atmospheric circulation. Given the rapid technological advances in modeling and proxy approaches to determine paleoelevation as well as phylogenetic techniques in recovering the evolutionary history of mountain species, understanding biodiversity and mountain building will develop into an important opportunity for the geological and biological sciences.