Continuous 500,000-Year Climate Record from Vein Calcite in Devils Hole, Nevada


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October 1992


Oxygen-18 (δ18O) variations in a 36-centimeter-long core (DH-11) of vein calcite from Devils Hole, Nevada, yield an uninterrupted 500,000-year paleotemperature record that closely mimics all major features in the Vostok (Antarctica) paleotemperature and marine δ18O ice-volume records. The chronology for this continental record is based on 21 replicated mass-spectrometric uranium-series dates. Between the middle and latest Pleistocene, the duration of the last four glacial cycles recorded in the calcite increased from 80,000 to 130,000 years; this variation suggests that major climate changes were aperiodic. The timing of specific climatic events indicates that orbitally controlled variations in solar insolation were not a major factor in triggering deglaciations. Interglacial climates lasted about 20,000 years. Collectively, these observations are inconsistent with the Milankovitch hypothesis for the origin of the Pleistocene glacial cycles but they are consistent with the thesis that these cycles originated from internal nonlinear feedbacks within the atmosphere-ice sheet-ocean system.

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Science Advances, Vol. 258, no. 5080 (1992-10-09).