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Stalagmite evidence for Early Holocene multidecadal hydroclimate variability in Ethiopia

Asrat, Asfawossen; Baker, Andy; Duan, Wuhui; Leng, Melanie J.; Boomer, Ian; Akter, Rabeya; Mariethoz, Gregoire; Adler, Lewis; Jex, Catherine N.; Yadeta, Meklit; Wang, Lisheng

Stalagmite evidence for Early Holocene multidecadal hydroclimate variability in Ethiopia Thumbnail


Asfawossen Asrat

Andy Baker

Wuhui Duan

Ian Boomer

Rabeya Akter

Gregoire Mariethoz

Lewis Adler

Catherine N. Jex

Meklit Yadeta

Lisheng Wang


A multiproxy oxygen and carbon isotope (δ13C and δ18O), growth rate, and trace element stalagmite paleoenvironmental record is presented for the Early Holocene from Ethiopia. The annually laminated stalagmite grew from 10.6 to 10.4 ka and from 9.7 to 9.0 ka with a short hiatus at ~9.25 ka. Statistically significant and coherent spectral frequencies in δ13C and δ18O are observed at 15–25 and 19–23 years, respectively. The observed ~1‰ amplitude variability in stalagmite δ18O is likely forced by nonequilibrium deposition, due to kinetic effects during the progressive degassing of CO2 from the water film during stalagmite formation. These frequencies are similar to the periodicity reported for other Holocene stalagmite records from Ethiopia, suggesting that multidecadal variability in stalagmite δ18O is typical. Several processes can lead to this multidecadal variability and operate in different directions. A hydroclimate forcing is likely the primary control on the extent of the partial evaporation of soil and shallow epikarst water and associated isotopic fractionation. The resulting oxygen isotope composition of percolation water is subsequently modulated by karst hydrology. Further isotopic fractionation is possible in-cave during nonequilibrium stalagmite deposition. Combined with possible recharge biases in drip-water δ18O, these processes can generate multidecadal δ18O variability.


Asrat, A., Baker, A., Duan, W., Leng, M. J., Boomer, I., Akter, R., …Wang, L. (2022). Stalagmite evidence for Early Holocene multidecadal hydroclimate variability in Ethiopia. Quaternary Research, 110, 67-81.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 20, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 29, 2022
Publication Date 2022-11
Deposit Date Jul 14, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 30, 2022
Journal Quaternary Research
Print ISSN 0033-5894
Electronic ISSN 1096-0287
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 110
Pages 67-81
Keywords General Earth and Planetary Sciences; Earth-Surface Processes; Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Public URL
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