Monitoring of Cueva Larga, Puerto Rico—A First Step to Decode Speleothem Climate Records
This study presents results of an ongoing cave monitoring program at Cueva Larga, Puerto Rico. The monitoring includes monthly analyses of stable isotope ratios of rain and drip water, and trace element ratios of drip water and cave air parameters. Drip sites are above growing speleothems offering the unique chance to calibrate geochemical variations in speleothems in order to reconstruct past climate conditions. Seasonal rainfall patterns above Cueva Larga show characteristic stable isotope values. The wet season is characterized by more negative δ18O and δD values and a maritime deuterium excess (+10‰). The dry season has more positive δ18O and δD values and elevated deuterium excess (>15%). The seasonal variations in the δ18O and δD values are smoothed by the soil and karst system which acts as a low-pass filter, indicating that climate proxies derived from speleothems growing in Cueva Larga may only show multiannual changes. The seepage water reservoir appears to be well-mixed. The transmission time of atmospheric signals into the drip water is site-specific ranging most likely from several months to years.
This research was supported by grant AGS 1003502 from the National Science Foundation. We are grateful to the International Association of Sedimentologists for a graduate student grant. S.W. and D.S. are thankful to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) for funding (SCHO 1274/6-1). We gratefully acknowledge Stefan Terzer (IAEA, Vienna) for providing isotopic data and comments on the manuscript, and we thank Augusto Mangini for his support inside and outside the cave. We thank Sylvia Riechelmann and Adrian Immenhauser from the Ruhr University Bochum and Eric Harmsen from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez for their technical support. We thank Felipe Rodriguez-Morales and his family for their support and Nestor Aponte and Phil Perillat from the Arecibo Observatory. We also thank the following people for their assistance in the field: Flora Sperberg, Michael A. Casciano Kotick, Juan Estrella Martínez, Sarymar Barreto Saavedra, Jose A. Santiago-Saez, and Adam Haydock.
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