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Speleothem Science: From Process to Past Environments

ISBN: 978-1-4051-9620-8
450 pages
April 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
Speleothem Science: From Process to Past Environments (1405196203) cover image
Speleothems (mineral deposits that formed in caves) are currently giving us some of the most exciting insights into environments and climates during the Pleistocene ice ages and the subsequent Holocene rise of civilizations. The book applies system science to Quaternary environments in a new and rigorous way and gives holistic explanations the relations between the properties of speleothems and the climatic and cave setting in which they are found.  It is designed as the ideal companion to someone embarking on speleothem research and, since the underlying science is very broad, it will also be invaluable to a wide variety of others.  Students and professional scientists interested in carbonate rocks, karst hydrogeology, climatology, aqueous geochemistry, carbonate geochemistry and the calibration of climatic proxies will find up-to-date reviews of these topics here.  The book will also be valuable to Quaternary scientists who, up to now, have lacked a thorough overview of these important archives.

Additional resources for this book can be found at: www.wiley.com/go/fairchild/speleothem.

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Preface, xi

Acknowledgements, xiii

I Scientifi c and geological context, 1

1 Introduction to speleothems and systems, 3

1.1 What is all the fuss about?, 3

1.2 How is this book organized?, 11

1.3 Concepts and approaches of system science, 13

1.4 The speleothem factory within the karst system, 18

2 Carbonate and karst cave geology, 28

2.1 Carbonates in the Earth system over geological time, 28

2.2 Lithologies of carbonate host rocks, 34

2.3 Carbonate diagenesis and eogenetic karst, 47

2.4 Speleogenesis in mesogenetic and telogenetic karst (with contributions from John Gunn and David J Lowe), 55

2.5 Cave infilling, 64

2.6 Conclusion, 71

3 Surface environments: climate, soil and vegetation, 73

3.1 The modern climate system, 73

3.2 Water isotopes in the atmosphere, 84

3.3 Soils of karst regions, 94

3.4 Vegetation of karst regions, 102

3.5 Synthesis: inputs to the incubator, 104

II Transfer processes in karst, 105

4 The speleothem incubator, 107

4.1 Introduction to speleophysiology, 107

4.2 Physical parameters and fl uid behaviour, 109

4.3 Water movement, 114

4.4 Air circulation, 122

4.5 Heat flux (authored by David Domínguez-Villar), 137

4.6 Synthesis: cave climatologies, 145

5 Inorganic water chemistry, 148

5.1 Sampling protocols for water chemistry, 148

5.2 The carbonate system, 152

5.3 Weathering, trace elements and isotopes, 156

5.4 Carbon isotopes, 173

5.5 Evolution of cave water chemistry: modelling sources and environmental signals, 180

6 Biogeochemistry of karstic environments, 187

6.1 Introduction, 187

6.2 Organic macromolecules, 188

6.3 Pollen and spores, 198

6.4 Cave faunal remains, 199

6.5 Synthesis and research gaps, 200

III Speleothem properties, 205

7 The architecture of speleothems, 207

7.1 Introduction, 207

7.2 Theoretical models of stalagmite growth and of stalagmite and stalactite shapes, 207

7.3 Geometrical classifi cation of speleothems, 213

7.4 Mineralogy and petrology, 223

7.5 Synthesis, 241

8 Geochemistry of speleothems, 245

8.1 Analysis and the sources of uncertainty, 245

8.2 The growth interface, 249

8.3 Trace element partitioning, 255

8.4 Oxygen and carbon isotope fractionation, 263

8.5 Evolution of dripwater and speleothem chemistry along water flowlines, 277

8.6 Process models of variability over time, 281

9 Dating of speleothems, 290

9.1 Introduction, 290

9.2 Dating techniques, 291

9.3 Age–distance models, 300

9.4 Conclusions, 301

IV Palaeoenvironments, 303

10 The instrumental era: calibration and validation of proxy-environment relationships, 305

10.1 Available instrumental and derived series, 306

10.2 Methodologies, 311

10.3 Case studies of calibrated speleothem proxies, 316

10.4 Questions raised and future directions, 323

11 The Holocene epoch: testing the climate and environmental proxies, 324

11.1 A brief overview of the Holocene, 325

11.2 The past millennium, 327

11.3 Holocene environmental changes: speleothem responses, 334

11.4 Questions raised and future directions, 351

12 The Pleistocene and beyond, 353

12.1 Pleistocene proxy records (ice-age climate fl uctuations defined and drawn), 353

12.2 Insights into pre-Quaternary palaeoenvironments, 361

12.3 Questions raised and looking to the future, 365

APPENDIX 1 Archiving speleothems and speleothem data, 368

References, 371

Index, 421

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Ian Fairchild was originally a geologist, then more specifically a sedimentologist, morphing into a physical geographer with leanings to environmental chemistry, before putting more geology back in the mix.  Hence, he is now Professor of Geosystems at the University of Birmingham, UK, researching both on modern environments and interpreting those in deep time, with carbonates, waters and climates as linking themes. 

Andy Baker was trained as a physical geographer, and worked at the interface of geology, physical geography, and environmental engineering.   He is currently a Professor at the University of New South Wales and a chief investigator in Australia’s National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training.

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“Speleothem Science sets high standards for any successor. It is a must-have for researchers working on karst geology and terrestrial Quaternary palaeoclimatology. For all those who always wanted to know how dripstones “grow”, why speleothems rival ice cores as top climate archives, or just want to learn the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite: get your hands on this book.”  (Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, 1 December 2013)

“The book is comprehensive; it brings together all the relevant disciplines (geology, biology, hydrology, chemistry…) and, whichever way you cut it, Fairchild and Baker have succeeded in bringing an important subject to a wider readership.  Speleothem Science is highly recommended.”  (Descent, 1 August 2013)

“The target readership of  Speleothem Science is threefold.  First, researchers who are already working with the stalagmite archive can widen and considerably deepen their knowledge in sub-disciplines not already covered in their own training.  Second, climate researchers who are not yet working on speleothem should be catapulted to the front-end once they will have studied the book together with the relating bench mark papers.  Third, graduate students who are looking for a topic for their PhD dissertation.  They might have found their textbook.”  (Computers & Geosciences, 27 January 2013)

“The volume will no doubt serve as a fine textbook and reference volume.  A companion website provides access to slides of all figures and tables.  Summing Up: Essential.  Upper-division undergraduates through professionals.”  (Choice, 1 December  2012)                   

“I highly recommend the landmark and very thorough book Speleothem Science: From Process to Past Environments by Ian J. Fairchild, Ph.D., and Andy Baker, Ph.D., to any students and professional scientists from a wide range of disciplines, who are seeking a holistic and comprehensive examination of the many topics and areas of research and study surrounding speleothems, climate, caves, and Quaternary science.”  (Blog Business World, 8 May 2012)
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