Biomass effects on stalagmite growth and isotope ratios: A 20th century analogue from Wiltshire, England

JUL Baldini, F McDermott, Andrew Baker

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94 Citations (Scopus)


Increases in calcite deposition rates combined with decreases in delta(13)C and delta(18)O in three modern stalagmites from Brown's Folly Mine, Wiltshire, England, are correlative with a well-documented re-vegetation above the mine. Increased soil P-CO2 resulted in greater amounts of dissolved CaCO3 in the drip waters, which consequently increased annual calcite deposition rates. The absence of deposition prior to 1916 (28 years after the mine was closed) indicates that vegetation had not yet sufficiently developed to allow higher P-CO2 values to form in the soil. Lower delta(13)C values through time may reflect the increased input of isotopically light biogenic carbon to the total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). delta(18)O decreased synchronously with delta(13)C, reflecting tire increased importance of isotopically light winter recharge due to greater biomass-induced Summer evapotranspiration, This is the first empirical demonstration that vegetation density can control stalagmite growth rates. delta(13)C. and delta(18)O, contributing critical insights into the interpretation of these climate proxies in ancient stalagmites. (C) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-494
Number of pages9
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005


  • oxygen isotopes
  • vegetation
  • growth rate
  • stalagmite
  • fractionation
  • carbon isotopes


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