Paleoclimate reconstruction in the Levant region from the geochemistry of a Holocene stalagmite from the Jeita cave, Lebanon

Sophie Verheyden
Fadi H. Nader
Hai J. Cheng

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Dated oxygen and carbon isotopic profiles from a Holocene stalagmite (11.9–1.1 ka) from the Jeita cave, Lebanon, are compared to variations in crystallographic habit, stalagmite diameter and growth rate. The profiles show generally high δ18O and δ13C values during the late-glacial period, low values during the early Holocene, and again high values after 5.8 ka. On the basis of the good correlation between the morphological and crystallographic aspect of the stalagmite and its isotopic records, as well as the isotopic response of speleothems from central and northern Israel, we relate high δ18O and δ13C values to drier conditions. Between 6.5 and 5.8 ka an increase in isotopic values, a decrease in growth rate and stalagmite diameter suggest a transition from wet conditions in the early Holocene towards drier conditions in the mid-Holocene. The transition occurred in two steps, first a progressive change to drier conditions started at 6.5 ka but was interrupted by a short (∼ 100 years) return to wetter conditions, followed by an equally rapid (< 200 years) change to drier conditions.