ISOtopes in Quaternary PALaeoenvironmental reconstruction (ISOPAL)

Leng, Melanie J. ORCID: 2004 ISOtopes in Quaternary PALaeoenvironmental reconstruction (ISOPAL). Quaternary Science Reviews, 23 (7-8). 739-741.

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This special issue of Quaternary Science Reviews comprises a selection of papers mostly deriving from a meeting on “ISOtopes in Quaternary PALaeoenvironmental reconstruction” (ISOPAL) held at the British Geological Survey (Nottingham, UK) in April 2002. The object of the meeting was to discuss recent research on isotopes in palaeoenvironmental change with particular emphasis to the UK and northern Europe. The meeting is one of a series of workshops dealing with isotope research sponsored by IGBP PAGES (International Geosphere–Biosphere, Program PAst Global changES) programme, and contributes specifically to the Pole–Equator–Pole (PEPIII) transect. Professor Tom Edwards (University of Waterloo) presented the PAGES ISOMAP initiative, a programme which is dedicated to fuller characterisation of Earth's isotope climate and palaeoclimate, based on the framework provided by both direct observational data of the past four decades and reconstruction of the isotopic composition of palaeo-precipitation from various natural archives extending into the past. Professor Edwards outlined other ISOMAP activities which are focussed on improved mapping of the present-day global isotope climate, exploiting observational data mainly provided by the IAEA/WMO GNIP programme, as well as on the development of time-slices and time-series for several key periods in the past. This issue aims to contribute to the PAGES programme by presenting a series of isotope systematics review papers and the application to Quaternary records. The opening paper by Darling (2004) is concerned with the interpretation of isotopes in precipitation in the UK and northern Europe, and is followed by a series of papers on stable isotope records from tree rings (McCarroll and Loader, 2004), lake sediments (both inorganic, Leng and Marshall (2004) and organic, Street-Perrott et al. (2004)), speleothems (McDermott, 2004) including a series of shorter case study papers, as well as a shorter review of stable isotopes from bone (Hedges et al., 2004). We attempt to demonstrate that the isotope composition of terrestrial sedimentary materials can yield a wide range of useful palaeoclimate information. However, the overwhelming message from the keynote papers is that to fully interpret isotope data from the various components requires a detailed knowledge of the processes that control and modify the signal, and these must be determined. It is particularly important to carry out a calibration exercise investigating the basic systematics of isotopic variation in the modern environment to establish the relationship between the measured signal and the isotopic composition of the host waters. A robust calibration may not be easy; the materials may not occur in the contemporary environment, for example, or the region of study may be geographically isolated making a rigorous contemporary study impossible. Where such calibrations are not possible assumptions have to be made, but should be based on evidence from both a multi-proxy approach using isotope signals from different materials as well as using other techniques.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: BGS Programmes > NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory
ISSN: 0277-3791
Date made live: 01 Jun 2012 13:56 +0 (UTC)

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