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Journal Article

Accurate chronological construction for two young stalagmites from the tropical South Pacific


Markowska,  Monika
Climate Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Faraji, M., Frisia, S., Hua, Q., Borsato, A., & Markowska, M. (2023). Accurate chronological construction for two young stalagmites from the tropical South Pacific. Quaternary Geochronology, 74: 101415. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2022.101415.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-DF0D-C
Modern to Holocene tropical Pacific stalagmites are commonly difficult to date with the U-series, the most commonly used dating method for speleothems. When U-series does not provide robust age models, due to multiple sources of 230Th or little U, radiocarbon is, potentially, the best alternative. The 14C content of two stalagmites (Pu17 and Nu16) collected from Pouatea and Nurau caves in the Cook Island Archipelago of the South Pacific were measured to obtain accurate chronology for their most modern parts. The bomb-pulse soil continuum modelling indicates that bomb radiocarbon in Pu17 onsets in 1956 and reaches its maximum in 1966 CE, suggesting a fast transfer of atmospheric carbon to the stalagmite of <1 year. The modelling for Pu17 suggests a 20% contribution from C1 - an instantaneous carbon source, which renders possible an immediate transfer of atmospheric signal into the cave. Nu16 shows a slower transfer of atmospheric carbon to the stalagmite than Pu17, with bomb radiocarbon onsetting in 1957 CE and peaking in 1972 CE. The less negative δ13C values in Nu16 than Pu17, and also the modelling corroborated this, which points out no contribution from the instantaneous carbon source. The radiocarbon age models and laminae counting age models were then spliced to achieve a single master chronology for the top part of each stalagmite. This study is an example of 14C age modelling combined with visible physical and chemical laminae counting and how it can improve the accuracy and precision of dating for otherwise hard-to-date tropical Pacific speleothems. Such accurate and precise age models pave the way to obtain sub-annually resolved paleoclimate records by further improving the calibration of climate proxy data with the current and instrumental weather parameters.