Effects of glaciation on karst hydrology and sedimentology during the Last Glacial Cycle: The case of Granito cave, Central Pyrenees (Spain)

Miguel Bartolomé, Carlos Sancho, Gerardo Benito, Alicia Medialdea, Mikel Calle, Ana Moreno, Maria Leunda, Marc Luetscher, Arsenio Muñoz, Joaquín Bastida, Hai Cheng, R. L. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In Alpine regions, speleothem development on karst systems largely occurs during warm interglacial or interstadial phases due to their limited growth during cold stages. Still, recent attention has been given to the role of clastic sediments in caves, less dependent on temperature conditions. Yet, only a small number of caves worldwide preserve both speleothems and detrital deposits. Here we present an outstanding record of fine-grain laminated sediments and carbonate speleothems from the Granito cave (South Central Pyrenees, Spain) associated with seasonal to annual hydroclimatic pulses through the Last Glacial Cycle (LGC). Analysis of cave clastic facies together with new absolute dates on glacial deposits along the valley has provided new insights into the karst-glacial interactions in relation with long-term landscape evolution, with support of geomorphological, sedimentological, mineralogical, palynological, geochemical and geochronological data (U/Th series, OSL and IRSL). The Granito cave was formed before 153.6±1.2 ky (Marine Isotopic Stage, MIS 6), as indicated by the oldest stalagmites dated in the cave, although speleothem formation occurred preferentially during MIS 5 and the Holocene interglacial stages. A 60 m thick clastic deposit was IRSL dated from 71.8±5.6 ky to after 26.5±2.5 ky corresponding with the maximum ice extent (MIE) during the LGC and subsequent glacial stabilization at 30.3±1.7 – 36.2±2.2 ky. The sediment infill was produced by water ponded in the cave coeval with the presence of glacial ice blocking the cave entrance. The cave clastic sequence includes channel, slackwater and backswamp facies, interpreted to result from pulses of sediment-laden water flow under vadose and phreatic flow regimes. The cave sediment's mineralogical composition points to an exogenous source associated with glacial till sediments overlying the hillslope above the cave and along the Ara River valley. The palynological results obtained from the cave sediments show the dominance of an open landscape composed of steppe vegetation indicating cold glacial climatic conditions. The opening of the cave occurred before 14.9±1.5 ky, the stabilization age of the innermost Ara glacier moraine, giving rise to scouring and cut-and-fill sequences within the detrital infill. Speleothem growth during the Holocene indicates the return to warm climatic conditions with the development of a soil and vegetation cover above the cave. This study shows how a combined interpretation of clastic and speleothem lithofacies is critical for elucidating landscape evolution and surface-groundwater palaeohydrological changes in northern Iberia during the LGC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105252
JournalCatena
Volume206
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We dedicate this paper to the memory of our friend Carlos Sancho, who passed away prematurely during the final stages of this manuscript writing. This study was founded by Félix de Azara grant, 2015 program (Diputación Provincial de Huesca) and the Spanish Government Research Agency (Spyrit Project CGL 2016-77479-R). Authors would like to acknowledge the use of Servicio General de Apoyo a la Investigación-SAI, University of Zaragoza and University of Barcelona. M Bartolomé is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship (Juan de la Cierva - Formación program) provided by the Spanish Ministry of Science (ref.: FJCI-2017-31725). G Benito was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (project EPHIMED CGL2017-86839-C3-1-R; cofounded with European funds FEDER). We are very grateful to Daniel Asenjo (G.R.E.I.M, Espeleo CAS) for helping during first cave recognition, Jordi Borrás (Espeleoclub Barcelonés) for the information about caves in the Ara valley, and Pere Cantons for sharing pictures of Granito cave, that increased notably the quality of figures. We thank Mario Gisbert (CEA) for the support provided during the topographical survey. We would also like to thank Josep M. Cervelló for the fruitful discussion about the caves of the Ara valley and their relationship with glacier phases. We are in debt to the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park direction and staff for facilitating our field work. We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and constructive criticism that improved the manuscript.

Funding Information:
We dedicate this paper to the memory of our friend Carlos Sancho, who passed away prematurely during the final stages of this manuscript writing. This study was founded by F?lix de Azara grant, 2015 program (Diputaci?n Provincial de Huesca) and the Spanish Government Research Agency (Spyrit Project CGL 2016-77479-R). Authors would like to acknowledge the use of Servicio General de Apoyo a la Investigaci?n-SAI, University of Zaragoza and University of Barcelona. M Bartolom? is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship (Juan de la Cierva - Formaci?n program) provided by the Spanish Ministry of Science (ref.: FJCI-2017-31725). G Benito was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities (project EPHIMED CGL2017-86839-C3-1-R; cofounded with European funds FEDER). We are very grateful to Daniel Asenjo (G.R.E.I.M, Espeleo CAS) for helping during first cave recognition, Jordi Borr?s (Espeleoclub Barcelon?s) for the information about caves in the Ara valley, and Pere Cantons for sharing pictures of Granito cave, that increased notably the quality of figures. We thank Mario Gisbert (CEA) for the support provided during the topographical survey. We would also like to thank Josep M. Cervell? for the fruitful discussion about the caves of the Ara valley and their relationship with glacier phases. We are in debt to the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park direction and staff for facilitating our field work. We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and constructive criticism that improved the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Cave sediments
  • Central Pyrenees
  • Glacier dynamics
  • Hydrological response
  • Upper Pleistocene

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