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Dripwater organic matter and trace element geochemistry in a semi-arid karst environment: Implications for speleothem paleoclimatology

Rutlidge, Helen, Baker, Andy, Marjo, Christopher E., Andersen, Martin S., Graham, Peter W., Cuthbert, Mark O., Rau, Gabriel C., Roshan, Hamid, Markowska, Monika, Mariethoz, Gregoire and Jex, Catherine N. 2014. Dripwater organic matter and trace element geochemistry in a semi-arid karst environment: Implications for speleothem paleoclimatology. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 135 , pp. 217-230. 10.1016/j.gca.2014.03.036

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A series of four short-term infiltration experiments which revealed hydrochemical responses relevant to semi-arid karst environments were carried out above Cathedral Cave, Wellington, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Dripwater samples were collected at two sites for trace element and organic matter analysis. Organic matter was characterised using fluorescence and interpreted using a PARAFAC model. Three components were isolated that represented unprocessed, soil-derived humic-like and fulvic-like material, processed humic/fulvic-like material and tryptophan-like fluorescence. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) performed on the entire dataset comprising trace element concentrations and PARAFAC scores revealed two dominant components that were identified as soil and limestone bedrock. The soil component was assigned based on significant contributions from the PARAFAC scores and additionally included Ba, Cu, Ni and Mg. The bedrock component included the expected elements of Ca, Mg and Sr as well as Si. The same elemental behaviour was observed in recent stalagmite growth collected from the site. Our experiments demonstrate that existing paleoclimate interpretations of speleothem Mg and Sr, developed in regions of positive water balance, are not readily applicable to water limited environments. We provide a new interpretation of trace element signatures unique to speleothems from water limited karst environments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Publisher: Meteoritical Society
ISSN: 0016-7037
Date of Acceptance: 25 March 2014
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2019 14:57

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