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Precise dating of Dansgaard-Oeschger climate oscillations in western Europe from stalagmite data

Villars Cave, Southwestern France Precise dating of Dansgaard-Oeschger climate oscillations in western Europe from stalagmite data
Volume 421, pp. 833 - 837 (20 February 2003)

D. Genty1, D. Blamart1, R. Ouahdi1, M. Gilmour2, A. Baker3, J. Jouzel1 & Sandra Van-Exter4
1 IPSL/Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, UMR CEA/CNRS 1572 Bat. 709, L'Orme des Merisiers CEA Saclay, 91191 Gif sur Yvette cedex, France
2 The Open University, Department of Earth Sciences, Uranium Series Facility, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, UK
3 Centre for Land Use and Water Resources Research, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK
4 University of Montpellier, Laboratoire Hydrosciences, UMR 5569 (CNRS-UM2-IRD), Maison des sciences de l'eau, CC 057, Place E. Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier cedex 5, France

The signature of Dansgaard-Oeschger events - millennial-scale abrupt climate oscillations during the last glacial period - is well established in ice cores and marine records. But the effects of such events in continental settings are not as clear, and their absolute chronology is uncertain beyond the limit of 14C dating and annual layer counting for marine records and ice cores, respectively. Here we present carbon and oxygen isotope records from a stalagmite collected in southwest France which have been precisely dated using 234U/230Th ratios. We find rapid climate oscillations coincident with the established Dansgaard-Oeschger events between 83,000 and 32,000 years ago in both isotope records. The oxygen isotope signature is similar to a record from Soreq cave, Israel, and deep-sea records, indicating the large spatial scale of the climate oscillations. The signal in the carbon isotopes gives evidence of drastic and rapid vegetation changes in western Europe, an important site in human cultural evolution. We also find evidence for a long phase of extremely cold climate in southwest France between 61.2 ±0.6 and 67.4 ±0.9 kyr ago.

Download the data from this study:
Speleothem d18O and d13C from Villars Cave, France.

Plot of stalagmite growth rate
Plot of Vil-stm9 stalagmite growth rate
(click for full image)
Geologic map of the Villars region
Geologic Map of the Villars Region
(click for larger image)

To read or view the full study, please visit the Nature website.

It was published in Nature Volume 421, pp. 833 - 837
(20 February 2003); doi:10.1038/nature01391.

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30 January 2004