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Stable isotope and 14C study of biogenic calcrete in a termite mound, Western Cape, South Africa, and its palaeoenvironmental significance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Alastair J. Potts
Affiliation:
Botany Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Jeremy J. Midgley
Affiliation:
Botany Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Chris Harris
Affiliation:
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Late Quaternary terrestrial climate records from the semi-arid zone of the Western Cape of South Africa are rare. However, palaeoenvironmental information may be inferred from ancient termite mounds of the region. Calcrete lenses in these mounds have δ13C and δ18O values that show systematic changes with radiocarbon dates, which range from 33,629–36,709 to 21,676–23,256 cal yr BP. These dates confirm that these heuweltjies had been present in the landscape since the last glacial period. The decrease in δ13C and δ18O from 33,629–36,709 to 21,676–23,256 cal yr BP indicates that climate information is recorded by the calcretes. It is suggested that a progressive decline in air temperature and an increase in moisture availability, and a decline in abundance of C4 or CAM plants, occurred in the region during the time heuweltjie calcite precipitated.

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Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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Stable isotope and 14C study of biogenic calcrete in a termite mound, Western Cape, South Africa, and its palaeoenvironmental significance
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