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Environmental monitoring in the Mechara caves, Southeastern Ethiopia : implications for speleothem palaeoclimate studies

Asrat, A; Baker, A; Leng, Melanie; Gunn, J; Umer, M. 2008 Environmental monitoring in the Mechara caves, Southeastern Ethiopia : implications for speleothem palaeoclimate studies. International Journal of Speleology, 37 (3). 1, pp.

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Abstract/Summary

Abstract The interpretation of palaeoclimate records in speleothems depends on the understanding of the modern climate of the region, the geology, the hydrology above the caves, and the within-cave climate. Monitoring within-cave climate variability, geochemistry of speleothem-forming drip waters, and associated surface and groundwater, provides a modern baseline for interpretation of speleothem palaeohydrological and palaeoclimate records. Here, we present results of such monitoring of the Mechara caves in southeastern Ethiopia, conducted between 2004-2007. Results show nearly constant within cave climate (temperature and humidity) in all caves, which generally reflects the surface climate; groundwater and surface water geochemistry is similar across the region (except slight modification by local lithological variations); and modern drip water isotope data fall close to regional Meteoric Water Line, but speleothems further from equilibrium. The Holocene and Modern speleothems from these caves give high-resolution climate records, implying that the Mechara caves provide a suitable setting for the deposition of annually laminated speleothems that could record surface climate variability in a region where rainfall is sensitive to both the strength of the intertropical convergence zone as well as Indian Monsoon variability.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2008 > NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: PDF freely available from journal homepage
Additional Keywords: Mechara, Ethiopia, cave monitoring, cave climate, drip water geochemistry, palaeoclimate
NORA Subject Terms: General
Earth Sciences
Date made live: 21 Oct 2008 08:29
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/4566

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