Layers upon Layers: Piecing together a monsoon story

ArtistByrd
ScientistAlena Kimbrough
Scientist PositionPhD Candidate, Research School of Earth Sciences, ANU

Layers upon Layers: Piecing together a monsoon story

The caves of Sulawesi, Indonesia provide clues of past climate. As rainwater seeps into these caverns, it carries with it a chemical signature containing evidence of how monsoon rainfall changed through time. This signal is delivered to the surfaces of stalagmites, where it slowly transforms into rock, safely storing geochemical evidence of rainfall within each layer of growth.
The rainfall record, pieced together in my research, spans two glacial-interglacial cycles from 130,000 to 385,000 years before the present and is constructed from multiple stalagmites. The results from this study help us to discover sensitivities within the climate system and learn how these life-sustaining monsoon systems behaved during times when Earth’s climate was rapidly warming.