Year of Publication

2010

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Geology

Abstract

A reconstruction of regional climate variability in southern West Virginia that spans the last glacial/interglacial transition is presented. Paleoclimate interpretations obtained from the 50-cm long stalagmite provide key insights regarding the timing, magnitude, and forcing mechanisms responsible for past climate variability. Stable isotopic (δ18O and δ13C) and trace element (Ba, Sr, Mg) signatures from samples contiguously milled along the growth-axis of a 230Th-dated stalagmite which grew between approximately 20 and 5 thousand years before present (kyr BP) provide critical constraints for above-cave mean annual temperature, seasonality of moisture mean annual precipitation, and potential vegetation shifts. Specifically, the stalagmite record reveals subcentennial-scale variations in the proxy records, and strong multimillennial-scale features that correlate to well-known patterns of sea-surface variability in the North Atlantic Ocean (i.e., Bond cycles). The large-scale glacial/interglacial transition is sufficiently resolved to show that regional climate changes largely paralleled climatic transitions preserved in low-latitude (Chinese monsoon records; Cariaco Basin) and high-latitude (Greenland Ice Sheet) paleo-archives. However, the Younger Dryas interval in the south-central Appalachian Mountains is not as prominent a feature as in other records.

Included in

Geology Commons

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