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Frisia S.,University of Newcastle | Fairchild I.J.,University of Birmingham | Fohlmeister J.,Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften | Miorandi R.,Museo Tridentino di Science Naturali | And 2 more authors.
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta | Year: 2011

Diverse interpretations have been made of carbon isotope time series in speleothems, reflecting multiple potential controls. Here we study the dynamics of 13C and 12C cycling in a particularly well-constrained site to improve our understanding of processes affecting speleothem δ13C values. The small, tubular Grotta di Ernesto cave (NE Italy) hosts annually-laminated speleothem archives of climatic and environmental changes. Temperature, air pressure, pCO2, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and their C isotopic compositions were monitored for up to five years in soil water and gas, cave dripwater and cave air. Mass-balance models were constructed for CO2 concentrations and tested against the carbon isotope data. Air advection forces winter pCO2 to drop in the cave air to ca. 500ppm from a summer peak of ca. 1500ppm, with a rate of air exchange between cave and free atmosphere of approximately 0.4days. The process of cave ventilation forces degassing of CO2 from the dripwater, prior to any calcite precipitation onto the stalagmites. This phase of degassing causes kinetic isotope fractionation, i.e. 13C-enrichment of dripwater whose δ13CDIC values are already higher (by about 1‰) than those of soil water due to dissolution of the carbonate rock. A subsequent systematic shift to even higher δ13C values, from -11.5‰ in the cave drips to about -8‰ calculated for the solution film on top of stalagmites, is related to degassing on the stalagmite top and equilibration with the cave air. Mass-balance modelling of C fluxes reveals that a very small percentage of isotopically depleted cave air CO2 evolves from the first phase of dripwater degassing, and shifts the winter cave air composition toward slightly more depleted values than those calculated for equilibrium. The systematic 13C-enrichment from the soil to the stalagmites at Grotta di Ernesto is independent of drip rate, and forced by the difference in pCO2 between cave water and cave air. This implies that speleothem δ13C values may not be simply interpreted either in terms of hydrology or soil processes. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Lane C.S.,University of Oxford | Blockley S.P.E.,Royal Holloway, University of London | Lotter A.F.,University Utrecht | Finsinger W.,Montpellier University | And 2 more authors.
Quaternary Science Reviews | Year: 2012

This paper summarises the results of tephrochronological investigations into a suite of central and southern European records, which include: Rotmeer, southern Germany; Soppensee and Rotsee, central Swiss Plateau; Lago di Lavarone and Lago Piccolo di Avigliana, Italian southern Alpine foreland. These sites provide records of palaeoenvironmental changes for the Last Glacial to Interglacial Transition (LGIT) at the boundary between North Atlantic and Mediterranean climatic influences. Chemical characterisation of glass shards in volcanic ash layers indicates that multiple volcanic sources have contributed to the central European tephra record. Amongst other volcanic markers, the Laacher See Tephra, originating from the Eifel region of Germany c. 12.9 ± 0.1 ka, and the Vedde Ash from Iceland c. 12.1 ± 0.1 ka, are found co-located within the sediments of Rotmeer, Soppensee, Rotsee and Lago Piccolo di Avigliana. These key horizons, which bracket the onset of the Younger Dryas stadial, provide precise calendrically-dated tie points around which a detailed picture of the timing of local and regional environmental transitions can be constructed. Using the co-located tephra layers the re-colonisation of Northern Italian catchment areas by Quercus is shown to occur just prior to the deposition of the Laacher See Tephra layer, whereas to the North of the Alps Quercus and other thermophilous trees do not reappear until several centuries after the deposition of the Vedde Ash. Furthermore, the discovery of the Vedde Ash in Lago Piccolo di Avigliana and Lago di Lavarone is indicative of atmospheric transport of polar air into southern Europe during the Younger Dryas stadial, matching evidence proposed for such transport of polar air during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Egli M.,University of Zurich | Sartori G.,Museo Tridentino di Science Naturali | Mirabella A.,Istituto Sperimentale per lo Studio e la Difesa del Suolo | Giaccai D.,Istituto Sperimentale per lo Studio e la Difesa del Suolo
Geomorphology | Year: 2010

The main aim of this study was to examine the influence of exposure and consequently climate, on the chemical weathering of soils which had developed after the ice retreat of the last glaciation in Northern Italy. This was done by comparing soils developing at north- and south-facing sites on siliceous parent material. There is very little data available on weathering rates and organic matter (OM) as a function of climate and exposure in such environments. Weathering rates (elemental leaching) over the whole lifetime of the soils are higher on north-facing sites. Total organic C and N contents, organic matter stocks and organic matter fractions were analysed to decipher the causes of this difference in weathering behaviour. For the organic matter fractions, we compared the easily oxidisable and stable (resistant to H2O2 treatment) organic matter fractions, water-soluble phenolic materials and alkaline-extractable fractions of the various sites. The abundance of soil organic carbon (SOC) tends to have a non-linear climate dependency. The highest amounts of SOC were measured near the timberline. In addition, compared to south-facing sites, soils on north-facing slopes have a higher organic matter content and a significantly lower degree of humification. Undecomposed or weakly degraded organic matter accumulated on north-facing sites due to less favourable thermal conditions and a higher acidity. With northern exposure, fulvic acids were more easily transported within the soil profile than humic acids and predominately gave rise to the migration (eluviation) of Fe and Al compounds due to their -COOH and -OH functional groups. Furthermore, water-soluble phenolic materials, which are more abundant on north-facing sites, have accelerated the leaching of Al. Accumulation of weakly degraded OM and the subsequently higher production of organic ligands have enhanced the eluviation of Fe and Al. Patterns of weathering processes in Alpine environments are strongly linked to biological and (micro)climatic factors which give rise to distinct differences between north- and south-facing sites. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. Source

Avanzini M.,Museo Tridentino di Science Naturali | Pinuela L.,Museo del Jurasico de Asturias MUJA | Pinuela L.,University of Oviedo | Garcia-Ramos J.C.,Museo del Jurasico de Asturias MUJA | Garcia-Ramos J.C.,University of Oviedo
Lethaia | Year: 2012

This study describes a set of theropod footprints collected from the Late Jurassic Lastres Formation (Asturias, N Spain). The footprints are natural casts (tracks and undertracks) grouped into three morphotypes, which are characterized by different size frequency, L/W relationship and divarication angles: 'Grallatorid' morphotype, 'Kayentapus-Magnoavipes' morphotype, 'Hispanosauropus' morphotype. The tracks were produced in firm, stiff and soft sediments. The infills of deep tracks, which are typically formed in soft mud, lack fine anatomical details, but they can reveal the walk kinematics of the trackmaker through the morphology of internal track fills and sinking traces. In all footprints, a horizontal outwardly directed translation movement and rotation are recognizable. The amount and geometry of digit penetration in the ground also show a pronounced difference. It can be inferred from the described sample that different theropoda-related ichnogenera share common kinematics. © 2011 The Authors, Lethaia © 2011 The Lethaia Foundation. Source

Miorandi R.,Museo Tridentino di Science Naturali | Borsato A.,Museo Tridentino di Science Naturali | Frisia S.,University of Newcastle | Fairchild I.J.,University of Birmingham | Richter D.K.,Ruhr University Bochum
Hydrological Processes | Year: 2010

Grotta di Ernesto is a cave site well suited for palaeoclimate studies because it contains annually laminated stalagmites and was monitored from 1995 to the end of 2008 for microclimate, hydrology and hydrochemistry. Long-term monitoring highlighted that cave drips show three different hydrological responses to rainfall and infiltration: (1) fast seasonal drips in the upper part of the cave, which are mostly fed by fractures, (2) slow seasonal drips, located at mid-depth in the cave characterized by mixed feeding and (3) slow drips, mostly located in the deeper gallery, which are fed by seepage flow from bulk porosity with a minor fracture-fed component. The slow drips display daily cycles during spring thaw. Monitoring also indicated that drip waters are only slightly modified by degassing within the soil zone and aquifer and by prior calcite precipitation. Hydrochemical studies show a clear seasonality in calcite saturation index, which results in most cave calcite precipitation occurring during late autumn and winter with similar amounts of precipitated calcite on most stalagmites, regardless of drip rate (discharge) differences. Drip rate, and drip rate variability, therefore, has a minor role in modulating the amount of annual calcite formation. In contrast, drip rate, when associated with moderate reduction in calcite saturation index, clearly influences stalagmite morphology. Increasing drip rate yields a passage from candle-, to cone- to dome-shaped stalagmites. Very high drip rates feed speleothems with flowstone morphology. In summary, monitoring provides information about the karst aquifer and how hydrology influences those physical and chemical characteristics of speleothems which are commonly used as climate proxies. © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Source

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