Speleothems have various advantages as climate archives:

  • They are found on all contintents
  • They can be dated with unprecedented precision within the last 600,000 years by 230Th/U-dating
  • Several climate proxies, such as stable carbon and oxygen isotopes and trace elements, can be measured at very high temporal resolution (years to decades)
  • They provide long continous climate records

230Th/U-dating of speleothems is performed in collaboration with the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz. We apply state-of-the-art mass spectrometric methods (MC-ICPMS), which allow high precision and resolution. Climate proxies, such as stable isotopes and trace elements, are also measured by mass spectrometry.

The climate information recorded in speleothems is influenced by various processes. Interpretation of the proxy signals in terms of past climate variability requires a basic understanding of these processes. Thus, the Research Group studies and models isotope fractionation processes in speleothems and conducts laboratory experiments with syntetic carbonates as well as large cave monitoring programs.