Project Updates

July 2016

Bob Jamieson has used a very high resolution record to illustrate how uranium varies on monthly timescales in aragonitic stalagmites: see http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016703716303787

May 2016

Radiocarbon CAN work for dating stalagmites – well done Franzi! See our new paper in Quaternary Geochronology http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871101416300577 for details.

December 2015

Harriet Ridley’s extensive monitoring efforts in Yok Balum Cave are now published: https://caves.org/pub/journal/PDF/v77/cave-77-03-183.pdf

November 2015

A new paper by the group links volcanic eruptions to millennial scale climate change! See here for the article. See https://www.dur.ac.uk/multimedia/video/academic/earth.sci/ and the video below for Dr James Baldini putting the research into context.

June 2015

CT scan of a slab of stalagmite ATM-7

Iza Walczak produces the first high resolution, accurately dated stalagmite record produce without sectioning the stalagmite. Read the paper here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277379115300226

A cool CT scan of a slab of stalagmite ATM-7 , showing micromill tracks standing out as ‘canyon’.

September 2014

PhD student Bob Jamieson presented a talk titled “Volcanic ashfall events in a speleothem identified using principal component analysis of an exceptionally high resolution trace element dataset” at Karst Record VII in Melbourne.

The Durham stalagmite group at the Karst Record VII conference in Melbourne

The Durham stalagmite group at the Karst Record VII conference in Melbourne. Pictured are (from left to right): Iza Walczak, Harriet Ridley, Alex Baker, Bob Jamieson, and Marianne Brett.

Image of the karst analogue experimental set-up in the Sir Kingsley Dunham Palaeoclimate Laboratory.

PhD student Bob Jamieson and undergraduate BP intern Zoë Hodges have spent the summer working on karst analogue experiments to better constrain trace element behaviour during aragonite precipitation.

Right photo: Image of the karst analogue experimental set-up in the Sir Kingsley Dunham Palaeoclimate Laboratory.

July 2014

PhD student Harriet Ridley successfully defended her thesis entitled, “Recent Central American and low latitude climate variability revealed using speleothem-based rainfall proxy records from southern Belize” in July 2014. Congratulations Dr Ridley! Dr Ridley currently has two first authored publications from her thesis in review.

PhD student Bob Jamieson presented a poster at the 2014 European Workshop on Laser Ablation in July entitled, ‘Volcanic ashfall events in a speleothem identified using principal component analysis of LA-ICP-MS trace element data.’ See Project Publications for full reference.

June 2014

PI James Baldini along with PhD students Izabela Walczak and Franzi Lechleitner attended the California Goldschmidt 2014 Conference held in Sacramento, California where they presented the latest HURRICANE Project results including, “Ridley et al.’s ‘Effects of natural and anthropogenic aerosols on ITCZ Position’ and Lechleitner et al.’s ‘Late Holocene 14C variations recorded by a speleothem from Yok Balum Cave, Belize’. See Project Publications for full reference.

Franzi deploying the new automatic soil water sampler

PhD student Bob Jamieson gave an oral presentation entitled, ‘Volcanic ashfall events in a speleothem identified using principal component analysis of LA-ICP-MS trace element data’ at the Durham Earth Sciences Department Research In Progress (RIP) day for which he was awarded £500 from British Petroleum (BP).

PhD students Isabela Walczak and Franzi Lechleitner travelled to Bermuda for field work. While there, they collected soil and drip water samples and deployed an automatic soil water sampler.

Right photo: Franzi deploying the new automatic soil water sampler.

May 2014

Iza conducting field work in Leamington cave.

PhD student Izabela Walczak travelled to Bermuda to meet with local caver and guide, Gil Nollan to download the latest monitoring data and service logging equipment

Right Photo: Iza conducting field work in Leamington cave.

March 2014

PI James Baldini was invited to attend the conference “Cultural use of Caves in the Americas” held at the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of London. James brought with him PhD students Harriet Ridley and Izabela Walczak.

February 2014

decorative image of a beach

PhD student Harriet Ridley had an article published in Nature Geoscience Aerosol forcing of the position of the intertropical convergence zone since AD 1550. She also wrote an article in the Conversation about her journal paper: Air pollution from Europe and America is making the tropics drier.

October 2013

The 2nd HURRICANE Project workshop/meeting was held in Durham this month to discuss progress and strategy with the project team members and collaborators.

December 2013

PhD student Harriet Ridley attended the AGU Fall 2013 Meeting in San Francisco where she presented her paper entitled, “Variability in Central American rainfall amount and seasonality over the past four centuries: evidence from a monthly resolved Belizean stalagmite”. See Project Publications for full reference.

July 2013

PhD students Izabela Walzcak and Bob Jamieson travelled to Bermuda to meet with hosts Dr Robbie Smith and Gil Nollan to download monitoring data, service monitoring equipment and collect two stalagmites from the cave.

July 2013

PI James Baldini travelled to Belize with PhD student Harriet Ridley to download data and collect a speleothem sample.

April 2013

PhD student Izabela Walzcak travelled to Vienna to attend the 2013 European Geosciences Union General Assembly and present her paper entitled, “Reconstructing climate using the geochemistry and computed tomography of stalagmites. See Project Publications for full reference.

March 2013

PhD students Izabela Walzcak and Franziska Lechleitner travelled to Bermuda to meet with hosts Dr Robbie Smith and Gil Nollan to look for active stalagmites and locate the optimum locations for deploying environmental monitoring equipment (CO2 logger, barotroll, tinytags and stalagmates) within Leamington Cave.

February 2013

PhD student Bob Jamieson travelled to Royal Holloway, London to meet with Dr Wolfgang Müller and perform laser ablation analysis on stalagmites from Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, and Poland.

November 2012 - First HURRICANE Project linked output published in Science!

HURRICANE Project PI, James Baldini and PhD student, Harriet Ridley have co-authored the paper entitled ‘Development and Disintegration of Maya Political Systems in Response to Climate Change’ with HURRICANE project collaborators Douglas Kennett (lead author), Sebastian Breitenbach (co-lead author), and Keith Prufer along with several other researchers from the USA, Switzerland, Germany and Belize. The paper, published in the journal Science on November 9th, reveals the role of climate change in the development and demise of Classic Mayan civilization. Data from Yok Balum stalagmite, YOK-I, reveals that periods of anomalously high rainfall coincided with unprecedented population expansion while episodes of extended drought triggered population collapse between AD 660 and 1100. Cave monitoring data compiled under the HURRICANE Project helped interpret the YOK-I proxy records.

The article can be viewed and/or downloaded here.

The YOK-I stable isotope record exhibits striking similarity to the much higher resolution YOK-G record that is currently being generated under the HURRICANE Project. Both records will contribute to the long-term reconstruction of past hurricane activity that is currently in progress.

In other news, at the start of November, Harriet travelled to Belize to meet project partner Keith Prufer to conduct field work in Yok Balum cave where they collected two stalagmites that have been monitored since the start of the HURRICANE Project. On this trip, basic mapping of Yok Balum continued and temperature experiments were conducted to determine cave ventilation.

Harriet and Keith also met with the new Santa Cruz village committee including the village’s new chairman and executive.

Approximately 6000 samples have been milled from Yok-G and 2000 of these have been run for stable isotopes. High resolution XRF trace element analysis of Yok-G has begun at the University of New Mexico where the stalagmite’s age model is also being refined and calibrated.

Oct 2012 –Sep 2013

James and Iza preparing to load stalagmite TC-EMP-12 into the  XCT Scanner

PhD student Izabela Walczak made 4 separate trips to North Durham University Hospital to work with Dr Stuart Marsden and Jonathan Slater to XCT scan stalagmites from Conch Bar Caves, Turks & Caicos Islands, El Refugio cave, Southern Spain and REF-07, Yok Balum cave, Belize and Leamington cave, Bermuda.

Right Photo: James and Iza preparing to load stalagmite TC-EMP-12 into the XCT Scanner.

July 2012

Iza viewing the XCT images as they are produced

PhD students Izabela Walczak and PI James Baldini went to the Spire Washington Hospital to meet with Mark Pendleton and XCT scan stalagmite TC-EMP-12 from Conch Bar Caves, Turks and Caicos Islands. Iza and James are using non-destructive CT scanning to reconstruct calcite density on unsectioned stalagmites for use as a novel palaeoclimate proxy.

Right Photo: Iza viewing the XCT images as they are produced.

June 2012

Harriet measuring stalagmite TCI-EMP-12 in Conch Bar Caves prior to collection.

Harriet and Iza travelled to Belize and Turks and Caicos Islands this month to download field monitoring data, perform necessary maintenance on field monitoring equipment, and collect a stalagmite sample from Conch Bar Caves that has been monitored since the project start. In Belize, they also performed some simple cave mapping and collected cave air and drip water samples for analysis back in Durham.

Right Photo: Harriet measuring TCI-EMP-12 in Conch Bar Caves prior to collection.

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