Dating of Late Pleistocene Interglacial and Interstadial Periods in the United Kingdom from Speleothem Growth Frequency Academic Article uri icon

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  • AbstractThe growth of speleothems is indicative of interglacial and interstadial conditions in the United Kingdom, since their growth is dependent on two factors. First, the occurrence of significant diffuse groundwater recharge and, second, the biogenic production of carbon dioxide in the soil, both are dependent on temperature and water availability. The growth frequency of speleothems is examined using a cumulative distributed error frequency method applied to 341 uncontaminated uranium-series age determinations. The curves derived are shown to be statistically stable, and the ages of the peaks are interpreted as the best estimates of the ages of interglacial and interstadial periods. Ten such periods are recognized during the interval 220,000 to 20,000 yr B.P., considerably more than are currently recognized in the UK pollen- and coleoptera-based Quaternary stratigraphy. Correlations between the speleothem growth frequency peaks and last interglacial (Ipswichian) sites can be made, but correlations with last glacial (Devensian) interstadial sites are limited because of the paucity of dates. The speleothem growth frequency record provides a well-dated terrestrial chronology for the past 140,000 yr B.P., which directly reflects regional palaeoclimatic conditions in Britain, and should prove very useful in unravelling the complex stratigraphy of the Devensian and Ipswichian stages.


  • Gordon, David
  • Smart, Peter L
  • Ford, Derek Clifford
  • Andrews, JN
  • Atkinson, TC
  • Rowe, PJ
  • Christopher, NSJ

publication date

  • January 1989