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This paper is a review of cave sediments: their characteristics and their application as paleoclimate archives. Cave sediments can be separated into two broad categories, clastic sediments and chemical sediments. Of these, stream-transported clastic sediments and calcite speleothems are both the most common and also the most useful as climatic records. Techniques for dating cave sediments include radiocarbon and U/Th dating of speleothems and paleomagnetic reversals and cosmogenic isotope dating of clastic sediments. Cosmogenic isotope dating of clastic sediments in caves with multiple levels or which occur at different elevations provide a geomorphic record of cave ages and river system evolution over the past 5 Ma. Isotope profiles, trace element profiles, color banding and luminescence profiles of speleothems, mainly stalagmites, produce a detailed paleoclimate record with very high time resolution over the past several hundred thousand years. There is potential application of these methods to late Holocene climates with implications for evaluation of current concern over global warming.
Cave Sediments, Caves, Paleoclimate, Clastic Sediments, Chemical Sediments
Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, Vol. 69, no. 1 (2007-04-01).
White, William B., "Cave Sediments and Paleoclimate" (2007). KIP Articles. 784.