Christoph Spötl

Christoph Spötl
University of Innsbruck | UIBK · Institute of Geology

Professor

About

535
Publications
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15,286
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Publications

Publications (535)
Article
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Protracted droughts lasting years to decades constitute severe threats to human welfare across the Indian subcontinent. Such events are, however, rare during the instrumental period ( ca . since 1871 CE). In contrast, the historic documentary evidence indicates the repeated occurrences of protracted droughts in the region during the preinstrumental...
Article
Full-text available
Cryogenic cave carbonates (CCCs) are a type of speleothem, typically dated with 230 Th/U disequilibrium methods, that provide evidence of palaeo-permafrost conditions. In the field, CCCs occur as distinct patches of millimetre-to centimetre-sized loose crystals and crystal aggregates on the floors of cave chambers, so they lack a framework that wou...
Article
Full-text available
The Bronze to Iron Age underground salt mining complex of Hallstatt (Austria) is widely recognised for its cultural importance and wealth of archaeological artefacts. However, while the daily life in the salt mines is archaeologically well documented and environmental effects of the mining activity have been investigated recently, the impact of nat...
Article
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The Little Ice Age (LIA; ca. 1450–1850 C.E.) is the best documented cold period of the past millennium, characterized by high-frequency volcanism, low solar activity, and high variability of Arctic sea-ice cover. Past studies of LIA Atlantic circulation changes have referenced the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), but recent studies have noted that...
Article
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Similarly to the effects of current climate change, the last deglaciation (Termination I) rapidly altered northern latitude temperatures and ice-sheet extent, as well as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation. However, it is still unclear how these changes propagated and impacted the central Mediterranean continental rainfall variability....
Article
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Ice caves are, similar to mountain glaciers, threatened by the warming climate. To better understand the response of perennial ice in caves to a changing climate, we analysed the thermal characteristics of a sag-type ice cave in the Austrian Alps (Hundsalm ice cave), based on long-term temperature measurements for the period 2008–2021. Observations...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Hypogene caves are the product of rock dissolution by reactive fluids whose origin is not linked to surface processes or meteoric water circulation. In contrast to "classic" epigene speleogenesis, the migration path of the fluids generally occurs upwards, and the reactivity of the upwelling solutions stems from deep-seated geological processes (e.g...
Conference Paper
Records of paleoclimate in the Middle East are particularly sparse in comparison with other regions around the world. In order to better resolve how Middle East climate responded to large global climate and environmental changes in the past, here we present the first glacial record of southwestern Iran climate constructed using speleothem climate p...
Poster
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Ancient firn hosted in ice caves can provide complementary insights on the climate of the last 2 ka. In this poster, we use radiocarbon-based age models from several ice-exposures to construct a preliminary 'ice cave' stable isotope record for the Common Era.
Preprint
Ice caves are one of the least studied parts of the cryosphere, particularly those located in inaccessible permafrost areas at high altitudes or high latitudes. We characterize the climate dynamics and the geomorphological features of Devaux cave, an outstanding ice cave in the Central Pyrenees on the French-Spanish border. Two distinct cave sector...
Article
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Continuous and slow-moving deep-seated landslides entail challenges for the effective planning of mitigation strategies aiming at the reduction of landslide movements. Given that the activity of most of these landslides is governed by pore pressure variations within the shear zone, profound knowledge about their hydrogeological control is required....
Article
Full-text available
Mid-latitude alpine caves preserve a record of past solid precipitation during winter, locally spanning several centuries to millennia. Dating organic macro-remains trapped in ice layers allows the determination of timing and duration of past periods of positive and negative ice mass balance. We present here the largest comparative study of ice cav...
Poster
Full-text available
Understanding the microclimatic processes in ice caves and their relationship to the surface climate is fundamental for a robust interpretation of snow and ice deposits within these caves. In order to improve the knowledge of associated processes, extensive micrometeorological experiments have been set up in three sag-type ice caves in Tyrol, Austr...
Article
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Caves containing perennial ice deposits make up a little-known, but emerging part of the cryosphere under increasing scrutiny from the scientific community. M-17, a sag-type ice cave opening at 1879 m asl in the Tolminski Migovec massif of the Julian Alps (NW Slovenia) contains a perennial underground ice deposit whose paleoclimate sensitivity is p...
Article
Speleothems show an array of shapes. Flowstones are commonly tabular sheet-like deposits, which cover cave floors and walls. They can procure detailed information about past hydrogeological conditions through their morphology, geochemical composition and stratigraphic properties, which in turn are related to the climate conditions at the surface. T...
Preprint
Full-text available
Ice caves are, similar to mountain glaciers, threatened by the warming climate. To better understand the response of perennial ice in caves to a changing climate, we analysed the thermal characteristics of a sag-type ice cave in the Austrian Alps (Hundsalm ice cave), based on long-term temperature measurements for the period 2008–2021. Observations...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cryogenic Cave Carbonates (CCCs) are a type of speleothem, typically dated with 230Th/U disequilibrium methods, that provide evidence of palaeo-permafrost conditions. In the field, CCCs occur as distinct patches of millimetre- to centimetre-sized loose crystals and crystal aggregates on the floor of cave chambers, lacking a framework to validate ag...
Preprint
Times of turmoil in Europe during past millennia have been linked to hydroclimate variability. The invasion of foreign peoples that hastened the collapse of the Roman Empire, for example, was suggested to have been triggered by precipitation minima. However, the climate evolution of central-east Europe, the cradle of these tribes, remains elusive,...
Article
Full-text available
RATIONALE The first row transition metals Cu, Ni, and Co show a strong binding affinity to natural organic matter. Compared to dissolved elements and stable water isotopes, they may be transported rapidly through the soil and host rock into caves in response to infiltration events. This study aims to assess the potential of transition metal ratios...
Preprint
The Little Ice Age (LIA) was the coldest period of the past millennium, characterized by high-density volcanism, low solar activity, and increased Northern Hemisphere sea-ice cover. Past studies of LIA circulation changes over the North Atlantic sector have typically referenced the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), though recent studies have noted...
Article
Full-text available
Several millennial-scale warm phases perturbed the glacial climate during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3, ca. 57–29 ka BP). Little is known about the impact of these climatic changes on Alpine ecosystems due to the sparsity of undisturbed sediment records in the Alps and their foreland. In this study, multiple sediment-archived proxies (sediment geo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Continuous and slow-moving deep-seated landslides entail challenges for the effective planning of mitigation strategies aiming at the reduction of landslide movements. Given that the activity of most of these landslides is governed by pore pressure variations within the shear zone, profound knowledge about their hydrogeological control is required....
Article
Full-text available
In the European Alps, the Last Interglacial (LIG, ~129–116 ka) has been primarily studied using pollen preserved in mires and lake sediments. These records document the vegetation succession across the LIG, but are poorly constrained chronologically. Here, we present a precisely dated stable isotope record for the early LIG (129.6 ± 0.4 to 125.0 ±...
Article
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Ikaite is a calcium carbonate hexahydrate that forms at temperatures close to the freezing point of water, thus its occurrence is associated with cryogenic conditions. This mineral is metastable and quickly transforms to calcite at temperatures above 5 °C. Pseudomorphs of calcite after ikaite are known as glendonite. The nanostructure of 25,000-43,...
Article
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The Liangzhu culture in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) was among the world’s most advanced Neolithic cultures. Archeological evidence suggests that the Liangzhu ancient city was abandoned, and the culture collapsed at ~4300 years ago. Here, we present speleothem records from southeastern China in conjunction with other paleoclimatic and archeologica...
Article
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Heinrich Stadial 4 during the last glacial period was marked by severe cooling at northern high latitudes along with the attendant changes in Asian Monsoon (Chinese Stadial 4) and South American Monsoon (South American Stadial 4). Here we present improved constraints on timings of Heinrich/Chinese/South American Stadial 4 onset and termination at s...
Presentation
Full-text available
Les dates absolues du maximum de la glaciation alpine, pendant le Würm (MIS 4, 3, 2), ne convergent pas entre les travaux réalisés en France (lobe de Lyon) et ceux réalisés en Suisse (lobe du Rhône). Ces derniers montrent un maximum de couverture glaciaire au cours du MIS 2, tandis que des travaux plus anciens en France suggèrent un englacement max...
Article
Past climate archives show the Last Interglacial (LIG) period as similar to slightly warmer than current temperatures. However, there is a lack of LIG proxy evidence regarding variations of the climate across large topographic features and how this manifests at different altitudes. Here, we analysed two flowstones from Bigonda Cave, northeast Italy...
Article
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This study presents ⸹²⁶Mg values, Mg²⁺ concentrations, ⸹¹⁸O and ⸹²H values of monthly collected rain and snow samples between 2014 and 2017 from north-west Germany. The ⸹²⁶Mg values of snow are similar to those of rain. Unlike ⸹¹⁸O and ⸹²H, neither ⸹²⁶Mgprecipitation values nor Mg²⁺ concentrations display a relationship with air temperature. In con...
Article
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Rapid and continuous analysis of radiocarbon (14C) concentration in carbonate samples at spatial resolution down to 100 µm has been made possible with the new LA-AMS (laser ablation accelerator mass spectrometry) technique. This novel approach can provide radiocarbon data at a spatial resolution similar to that of stable carbon (C) isotope measurem...
Conference Paper
The last deglaciation (Termination I, T-I) was the most recent global-scale climate transition. It involved a drastic temperature increase guiding massive melting of ice sheets, with a concurrent reorganization of inter- and intrahemispherical atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns. T-I lasted ~3.0 ka (ka = kiloyears before present) in Greenlan...
Article
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We examined 14 subaerially deposited speleothems retrieved from submerged caves in the northeastern Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico). These speleothems grew during the Middle to Late Quaternary and were dated by ²³⁰Th-U techniques to provide upper depth limits for past sea levels. We report the first relative sea-level limits for Marine Isotope Stages (M...
Article
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Investigating the precise timing of regional-scale climate changes during glacial terminations and the interglacial periods that follow is key to unraveling the mechanisms behind these global climate shifts. Here, we present a high-precision time series of climate changes in the Austrian Alps that coincide with the later portion of Termination III...
Article
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
Conflicting reconstructions of Holocene variability of the East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) from speleothem versus other types of proxy records have yielded widely divergent estimates of its phase relationship with the Indian summer monsoon (ISM) and Northern Hemisphere summer insolation (NHSI). This apparent discrepancy has been partly attributed...
Article
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A precisely dated speleothem isotope record from the Sieben Hengste cave system, Switzerland, reveals a Last Interglacial (LIG) climate optimum centred at 128.1 ± 1.2 ka. The oxygen isotope signal is consistent with a temperature-dominated record and shows a strong correlation with the modelled Greenland δ¹⁸O signal. The comparison with speleothems...
Article
Major disruptions in the North Atlantic circulation during the last deglaciation triggered a series of climate feedbacks that influenced the course of Termination I, suggesting an almost synchronous response in the ocean-atmosphere system. We present a replicated δ18O stalagmite record from Ostolo cave in the northern Iberian Peninsula with a robus...
Article
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The fourth‐ and fifth‐century aqueduct system of Constantinople is, at 426 km, the longest water supply line of the ancient world. Carbonate deposits in the aqueduct system provide an archive of both archaeological developments and palaeo‐environmental conditions during the depositional period. The 246‐km‐long aqueduct line from the fourth century...
Article
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Plain Language Summary The Younger Dryas (YD) is the most recent millennial‐scale abrupt climate event in Earth history. Although its origin has been extensively studied, its structure is still poorly understood. Climate in northeastern Brazil is very sensitive to the latitudinal position of the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) responds to abr...
Article
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The Late Holocene was characterized by several centennial-scale climate oscillations including the Roman Warm Period, the Dark Ages Cold Period, the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. The detection and investigation of such climate anomalies requires paleoclimate archives with an accurate chronology as well as a high temporal resolution....
Article
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In the European Alps, the Younger Dryas (YD) was characterised by the last major glacier advance, with equilibrium line altitudes being ∼ 220 to 290 m lower than during the Little Ice Age, and also by the development of rock glaciers. Dating of these geomorphic features, however, is associated with substantial uncertainties, leading to considerable...
Article
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Impact ejecta formation and emplacement is of great importance when it comes to understanding the process of impact cratering and consequences of impact events in general. Here we present a multidisciplinary investigation of a distal impact ejecta layer, the Blockhorizont, that occurs near Bernhardzell in eastern Switzerland. We provide unambiguous...
Article
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The five interglacials before the Mid-Brunhes Event (MBE) [c.430 thousand years (ka) ago] are generally considered to be globally cooler than those post-MBE. Inhomogeneities exist regionally, however, which suggest that the Arctic was warmer than present during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 15a. Using the first speleothem record for the High Arctic, w...
Article
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The culmination of the glaciers in the European Alps during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) is one of the most intensively studied paleoglaciological events, but its trigger and forcing remain incompletely understood. Here, we provide evidence that the timing of this glacier maximum coincided within age uncertainties with a 3100 yr-long interval of...
Article
Full-text available
Winter Wonderland Cave contains perennial ice associated with two types of cryogenic cave carbonate (CCC) formed during the freezing of water. CCCfine is characterized by relatively high δ¹³C values, whereas CCCcoarse exhibits notably low δ¹⁸O values indicating precipitation under (semi)closed-system conditions in a pool of residual water beneath a...
Article
Full-text available
The Dolomites of northern Italy feature some of the most intensively studied carbonate rocks worldwide. Yet, little is known about the long karst history of this mountain range dating back to the Miocene. This study scrutinizes three caves (F10, Milchloch and Cioccherloch) in the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park (Province of South Tyrol) and the adja...
Article
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Holocene climate in Central Europe was characterized by variations on millennial to decadal time scales. Speleothems provide the opportunity to study such palaeoclimate variability using high temporal resolution proxy records, and offer precise age models by U-series dating. However, the significance of proxy records from an individual speleothem i...
Article
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Hypogene speleogenesis involves the formation of solution-enlarged permeability structures driven by ascending water acquiring its acidity from deep-seated sources. This process occurs in a wide range of geological settings and in different lithologies. Although hypogene speleogenesis has received increasing attention in the last two decades, the i...
Poster
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In Europe, the scarcity of last glacial speleothem palaeoclimate/palaeoenvironmental records is attributable to the generally dry and cold climate that hampered soil bioproductivity, karst dissolution and carbonate deposition in caves. However, at southern Mediterranean latitudes, glacial climate was milder than in central or northern Europe and sp...
Article
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Paleolithic antiquity of parietal art in Ignatievskaya cave, Southern Ural, is supported by its subject (Late Pleistocene animals) as well as by paleontological and palynological data, and 14C dates from cultural layers associated with artistic activity (17.8−16.3 cal ka BP; association is established by finds of ochre in these layers). However, th...
Article
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Uranium–uranium (234U–238U) disequilibrium dating can determine the age of secondary carbonates over greater time intervals than the well-established 230Th–234U dating method. Yet it is rarely applied due to unknowns in the initial δ234U (δ234Ui) value, which result in significant age uncertainties. In order to understand the δ234Ui in Devils Hole...
Article
Climate change during the Little Ice Age (LIA) was characterized by globally widespread but spatiotemporally incoherent cooling with high regional variability. However, the onset, termination, internal structure, and underlying forcing mechanisms of the LIA remain unclear. Here we present a U-Th-dated stalagmite record with an average sampling reso...
Article
Full-text available
Warmer temperatures than today, over a period spanning millennia, most recently occurred in the Last Interglacial period, about 129,000 to 116,000 years ago. Yet, the timing and magnitude of warmth during this time interval are uncertain. Here we present a reconstruction of temperatures in the Swiss Alps over the full duration of the Last Interglac...
Preprint
Full-text available
Winter Wonderland Cave contains perennial ice associated with two types of cryogenic cave carbonate (CCC) formed during the freezing of water. CCC fine is characterized by relatively enriched δ ¹³ C values, whereas CCC coarse exhibits notably depleted δ ¹⁸ O values indicating precipitation under (semi)closed-system conditions in a pool of residual...