Multi-proxy evidence of millennial climate variability from multiple Bahamian speleothems

Monica M. Arienzo, Peter K. Swart, Kenneth Broad, Amy C. Clement, Ali Pourmand, Brian Kakuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Northern Hemisphere tropical paleoclimate records support significant changes associated with Dansgaard Oeschger (D/O) events and Heinrich stadials 1 to 6 during the last 64,000 years. However, few absolutely dated terrestrial records from the western Atlantic span the last six Heinrich stadials. Here we present geochemical results from three new stalagmites collected from a cave in the Bahamas which encompass Heinrich stadials 1 to 6. We build on a previous study of the δ13C and δ18O values of the calcite and δ18O value of fluid inclusions from a single stalagmite from the same cave spanning the last three Heinrich stadials. Absolute geochronometry using U-Th equilibrium series demonstrates that the stalagmites formed between 63.8 and 13.8 kyr BP. The δ13C and δ18O values of the calcite show higher values associated with Heinrich stadials 1–6, and lower values during the D/O interstadial events. The Sr/Ca ratios of the calcite are shown to be relatively invariant, while in two of the samples the Mg/Ca ratios track the δ13C values. Increases in the δ18O values across Heinrich stadials 1–6 are interpreted as being driven by lower temperatures. The two deeper occurring stalagmites demonstrate increased Mg/Ca ratios and δ13C values during Heinrich stadials 1 and 2 which are interpreted as a signal of reduced flow rates in the epikarst and increased water/rock interactions as a result of increased aridity which potentially occurred across all six Heinrich stadials. The observed reductions in mean annual temperature and amount of precipitation across Heinrich stadials are proposed to be driven by a reduction in sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic and an expanded Bermuda High. During D/O interstadials, the Bahamas cave records likely indicate warmer and/or wetter climate; however the isotopic shifts are not as significant as the isotopic excursions associated with Heinrich stadials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Geology


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