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Loss of primary texture and geochemical signatures in speleothems due to diagenesis: Evidences from Castañar Cave, Spain

Martín García, Rebeca and Alonso-Zarza, Ana María and Martín Pérez, Andrea (2009) Loss of primary texture and geochemical signatures in speleothems due to diagenesis: Evidences from Castañar Cave, Spain. Sedimentary geology, 221 (1-4). pp. 141-149. ISSN 0037-0738

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Abstract

Geochemical signals from speleothems are commonly used in the investigation of palaeoenvironments. In most cases, however, little attention is paid to whether or not these signals are primary or altered by diagenesis. The speleothems of the Castañar Cave (Cáceres, Spain), which are initially formed of calcite or aragonite, have undergone a variety of meteoric diagenetic processes such as micritization and neomorphism (inversion), that collectively modify their primary features (textures, mineralogy, geochemical signals). The mean δ13C and δ18O values of the aragonites in the cave are −8.66 and −4.64 respectively, whereas the primary calcites have mean δ13C and δ18O values of −9.99 and −5.77, respectively. Following the diagenetic process of micritization, the aragonite isotopic signals averaged −7.63 δ13C and −4.74 δ18O and the calcite micrite signals −9.53 δ13C and −5.21 δ18O. Where inversion took place, some secondary calcites after the aragonite show preserved aragonite, whereas others do not. The secondary calcites without aragonite relics show isotopic values slightly higher than those of the primary calcite due to the inheritance of the aragonite signal. Where aragonite relics are preserved, the isotopic signatures are very similar to those of the aragonite micrite.

In addition, the stable isotopic values and Sr and Mg contents of the speleothems became also modified by micritization and/or inversion. These diagenetic processes were driven by the changes in composition of the cave waters over time and space, but also, in the case of aragonite, by its initial unstable mineralogy.

The present results highlight how important diagenesis is in caves and how the initial features of cave minerals may be lost. These changes alter the geochemical signals shown by speleothems, which may have an impact on the interpretation of the results obtained in palaeoenvironmental studies.


Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Meteoric diagenesis, Speleothems, Isotope geochemistry, Palaeoclimate, Castañar cave
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Petrology
ID Code:10059
Deposited On:06 Jul 2010 08:27
Last Modified:06 Sep 2010 10:56

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