Early Career Researcher Workshop - Introduction to Cave Monitoring

Convenor:  Dave Mattey (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Description: Information from cave monitoring can make a vital contribution to the interpretation and testing of climate reconstructions from speleothem proxy records. The cave environment is far from static and the wealth of data that can be obtained from measurements of the microclimate, air flow patterns, drip discharge rates and composition of drip waters and carbonate precipitates provide crucial links between the local climate and proxy recording in speleothem.

This workshop will provide a practical introduction to cave monitoring and is aimed at those thinking about setting up a monitoring campaign or who have gained some experience of collecting and interpreting cave monitoring data. The workshop will be divided into two parts.  The first part will discuss ‘why monitor?’, the parameters that are useful in proxy interpretation, the types of instrumentation that are suitable for cave environments and ways to go about planning a monitoring campaign. The second part will provide time for some selected case studies and group discussion of some of the challenges and pitfalls. There will be opportunities for hands-on experience with monitoring instruments and field analytical techniques.  

Note this workshop is intended for early-career researchers (students and less than 5 years post Ph.D.)

Date: Saturday 11th July, 2020 - Afternoon 

Participant Limit: TBC

Cave Photography

Convenor: Robbie Shone (Shonephotography, Instagram).

Description: Robbie Shone has over 20 years of experience photographing caves all over the world. He has contributed to such outlets as National Geographic magazine, GEO magazine, The Economist, New Scientist, Red Bulletin, Science Illustrated, and Terra Mater. His social media following is in excess of 285,000 people. During this 1-day workshop, Robbie will spend the morning presenting and discussing the theoretrical side of photography, with a particular emphasis on cave photography. He will also cover how to transport gear safely, how to work with the media and grow an online platform, and will showcase different types of equipment to suit different budgets. In the afternoon, the participants will move to a nearby cave, where they will have the opportunity to practice what they've learned and receive feedback.  Participants should ideally have their own camera and lighting equipment, but this is not completely essential.

Date: Sunday 12th July, 2020 - Full Day 

Participant Limit: 12

Curating Speleothem Samples

Convenors: Ian Orland (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Carrie Eaton (UW-Madison Geology Museum) & Dr. Richard Slaughter (UW-Madison Geology Museum).

Description: Speleothems are unique and irreplaceable recorders of past environmental change, and their analysis routinely requires considerable effort and funding. To protect this investment and foster additional research, our community has undertaken commendable efforts to cultivate shared databases of speleothem analyses. Just as archiving these analytical data is important, it is also imperative that we properly curate the samples themselves.

This workshop will continue the discussion of what we can do, both individually and as a community, to ensure that speleothem samples are preserved. It will feature a review of the best curatorial practices and a moderated discussion guided by the following themes:

    - Issues related to the ownership of samples

     - Preservation of samples collected by scientists who retire or change careers

     - Gauging interest in establishing dedicated repositories for speleothem samples

Date: Tuesday 14th July, 2020 - Afternoon

Participant Limit: TBC

Speleothem petrography and microstratigraphy: from the micro to the nanoscale

Convenors: Andrea Borsato & Silvia Frisia (The University of Newcastle, Australia)

Description: Crystallization processes (nucleation and growth) have a role in the “kinetic” incorporation of isotopes and trace elements in calcium carbonate crystals. Non-equilibrium incorporation of chemical species can be explained by ultra-high resolution investigation and allows advances in our capability of interpretation of climate proxies to be made. Therefore, if we strive towards an accurate interpretation of speleothem proxy data, we should start from petrographic observations to check for the presence of non-equilibrium fabrics and possible diagenetic modifications.

This petrography workshop is divided into three sections. In the first part the participants will learn how to recognise the most common types of speleothem fabrics and hiatuses, as well as to understand their characteristics and the known climate and environmental parameters underpinning their development. They will also learn about the most technically advanced techniques for nano-scale investigation, what information they provide and where to access them. The second part will focus on the construction of the petrographic log. There will be an open discussion about different approaches utilised to convert petrographic observations in numerical values in order to compare petrography with speleothem geochemistry. High resolution scanning of polished speleothem slabs will be introduced as one of the best tools to construct fast petrographic logs from very long stalagmite samples or flowstones. In the third part, the participants will observe under a petrographic microscope thin sections of the most common speleothem fabric. We also encourage participants to bring their own thin sections and/or polished speleothem slabs, or other types of continental carbonates.

Date: Tuesday 14th July, 2020 - Afternoon

Participant Limit: TBC

The Value of Radiocarbon in Speleothem Science

Convenors: Jens Fohlmeister (University of Potsdam, Germany) & Franziska Lechleitner (University of Oxford, UK)

Description: Radiocarbon is one of the most versatile isotopes in environmental science. Its applications in different climate archives as a dating tool and environmental tracer forms the backbone of climate research. The use of radiocarbon in speleothem science is greatly increasing and its potential is becoming widely acknowledged.

This workshop on radiocarbon will be split in two sections. One part will focus on the use of radiocarbon for dating stalagmites, in particular when U-Th methods fail. Presently, there are some approaches available, which are able to provide appropriate age-depth relationships for speleothems using radiocarbon, despite the potential variations in the reservoir effect. We will discuss these approaches and compare their performance. In this part of the workshop, we will also encourage participants to bring their own datasets and establish radiocarbon-based chronologies for their stalagmites. The second part of the workshop will provide an overview of the strength of radiocarbon as an environmental tracer, which is related to various climate parameters. Important progress has been made within the last decade to decipher the various processes affecting stalagmite radiocarbon concentrations, e.g., soil organic matter age and carbonate dissolution conditions. We will also introduce the use of software that is able to estimate the initial radiocarbon concentrations at the time of carbonate deposition and to disentangle these processes. In this part of the workshop you will also have the opportunity to test the software on your own datasets.

Date: Tuesday 14th July, 2020 - Afternoon

Participant Limit: TBC


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