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An 1800-year oxygen-isotope record of short- and long-term hydroclimate variability in the northern neotropics from a Jamaican marl lake

Holmes, Jonathan; Burn, Michael; Cisneros-Dozal, Luz Maria; Jones, Matthew; Metcalfe, Sarah


Jonathan Holmes

Michael Burn

Luz Maria Cisneros-Dozal

Professor of Quaternary Science


Hydroclimate variability on multi-decadal timescales has been a prominent feature of the circum-Caribbean region over the common era, with marked dry intervals noted in particular for the period 800–950 CE coinciding with the Terminal Classic Period (the so-called Terminal Classic Drought: TCD) in Mesoamerica, and with the Little Ice Age from about 1500 to 1800 CE, linked to complex ocean-atmosphere interactions. Previous compilations of palaeoclimate reconstructions have revealed a clear precipitation dipole between northern and southern Mesoamerica over the common era, which is consistent with meteorological data and modelling experiments. However, patterns of variability elsewhere within the region are less well understood, although palaeoclimate records do point to spatial complexity. Here, we present a ∼sub-decadal-scale lake-sediment hydroclimate reconstruction based on ostracod-shell stable isotopes from Wallywash Great Pond, Jamaica, covering the past ∼1800 years, which fills a spatial gap in records for the region. Variations in δ18O values at this site are a proxy for changes in effective moisture and they reveal a marked wet phase over the Terminal Classic Period (TCP), suggesting that the precipitation dipole over northern and southern Mesoamerica may have an east to west component. This is supported by some previous studies, although additional sites are required from strategic localities within the region to confirm this. The Little Ice Age interval at Wallywash is drier than the TCP, although the signal is less clear than at some sites within the wider region, suggesting that regional complexity in hydroclimate has characterised this interval as well.


Holmes, J., Burn, M., Cisneros-Dozal, L. M., Jones, M., & Metcalfe, S. (2023). An 1800-year oxygen-isotope record of short- and long-term hydroclimate variability in the northern neotropics from a Jamaican marl lake. Quaternary Science Reviews, 301, Article 107930.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Jan 7, 2023
Publication Date Feb 1, 2023
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 16, 2023
Journal Quaternary Science Reviews
Print ISSN 0277-3791
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 301
Article Number 107930
Keywords Geology; Archeology; Archeology; Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics; Global and Planetary Change
Public URL
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