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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Modern systematics and environmental significance of stable isotopic variations in Wanxiang Cave, Wudu, Gansu, China

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This paper presents the stable isotopic compositions from the cave dripwater and actively forming soda straw stalactites collected from Wanxiang Cave, Wudu, Gansu, located on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and Loess Plateau transition zone, China. The δ18Odw and δDdw of dripwater samples in the cave plot directly on the local MWL, constructed by using GNIP data from 3 sites surrounding the cave regions (Lanzhou, Xi’an, and Chengdu), the nearest site to the cave, suggesting that there is a close relationship between the δ18Odw of the cave water and the δ18O of the precipitations. Using the measured δ18Odw and δ18Omc values from the mid-farthest parts from the cave entrance and the carbonate paleotemperature equation, the calculated tem peratures range from 8.9 to 12.4°C, with the mean value of 10.7°C and the temperature calculated at 8 locations in the farthest part of the cave is in the range of 10.1–12.4°C with the mean value of 11.5°C, being consistent with the survey value(10.99°C)in the cave, slightly lower than the mean annual temperature (14.4°C) in Wudu. This suggests that modern speleothems are forming under isotopic equilibrium and their isotopic composition accurately reflects the mean annual temperature at the surface, indicating that the isotopic composition of the modern speleothems records local temperature change with credibility.

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