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We present the ‘SISAL webApp’—a web-based tool to query the Speleothem Isotope Synthesis and AnaLysis (SISAL) database. The software provides an easy-to-use front-end interface to mine data from the SISAL database while providing the SQL code alongside as a learning tool. It allows for simple and increasingly complex querying of the SISAL database based on various data and metadata fields. The SISAL webApp version currently hosts SISALv2 of the database with 691 records from 294 sites, 512 of which have standardized chronologies. The SISAL webApp has sufficient flexibility to host future versions of the SISAL database, which may include allied speleothem information such as trace elements and cave-monitoring records. The SISAL webApp will increase accessibility to the SISAL database while also functioning as a learning tool for more advanced ways of querying paleoclimate databases. The SISAL webApp is available at http://geochem.hu/SISAL_webApp.
Speleothem organic matter can be a powerful tracer for past environmental conditions and karst processes. Carbon isotope measurements (δ13C and 14C) in particular can provide crucial information on the provenance and age of speleothem organic matter, but are challenging due to low concentrations of organic matter in stalagmites. Here, we present a method development study on extraction and isotopic characterization of speleothem organic matter using a rapid procedure with low laboratory contamination risk. An extensive blank assessment allowed us to quantify possible sources of contamination through the entire method. Although blank contamination is consistently low (1.7 ± 0.34 – 4.3 ± 0.86 μg C for the entire procedure), incomplete sample decarbonation poses a still unresolved problem of the method, but can be detected when considering both δ13C and 14C values. We test the method on five stalagmites, showing reproducible results on samples as small as 7 μg C for δ13C and 20 μg C for 14C. Furthermore, we find consistently lower non-purgeable organic carbon (NPOC) 14C values compared to the carbonate 14C over the bomb spike interval in two stalagmites from Yok Balum Cave, Belize, suggesting overprint of a pre-aged or even fossil source of carbon on the organic fraction incorporated by these stalagmites.
Northeastern (NE) India experiences extraordinarily pronounced seasonal climate, governed by the Indian summer monsoon (ISM). The vulnerability of this region to floods and droughts calls for detailed and highly resolved paleoclimate reconstructions to assess the recurrence rate and driving factors of ISM changes. We use stable oxygen and carbon isotope ratios (δ18O and δ13C) from stalagmite MAW-6 from Mawmluh Cave to infer climate and environmental conditions in NE India over the last deglaciation (16–6ka). We interpret stalagmite δ18O as reflecting ISM strength, whereas δ13C appears to be driven by local hydroclimate conditions. Pronounced shifts in ISM strength over the deglaciation are apparent from the δ18O record, similarly to other records from monsoonal Asia. The ISM is weaker during the late glacial (LG) period and the Younger Dryas, and stronger during the Bølling-Allerød and Holocene. Local conditions inferred from the δ13C record appear to have changed less substantially over time, possibly related to the masking effect of changing precipitation seasonality. Time series analysis of the δ18O record reveals more chaotic conditions during the late glacial and higher predictability during the Holocene, likely related to the strengthening of the seasonal recurrence of the ISM with the onset of the Holocene.
Substances enriched with radiocarbon can easily contaminate samples and laboratories used for natural abundance measurements. We have developed a new method using wet chemical oxidation for swabbing laboratories and equipment to test for 14C contamination. Here, we report the findings of 18 months’ work and more than 800 tests covering studies at multiple locations. Evidence of past and current use of enriched 14C was found at all but one location and a program of testing and communication was used to mitigate its effects. Remediation was attempted with mixed success and depended on the complexity and level of the contamination. We describe four cases from different situations.
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