Reconstructing monsoon dynamics on the Tibetan Plateau using ostracod shell chemistry
Abstract:Ostracod shells have widely been used as source material for geochemical analysis of stable isotope and trace element composition in paleolimnological reconstruction of lake hydrochemistry and climate as they provide insight into past water balance and solute evolution of lakes. During five fieldtrips to the Tibetan Plateau, taking place between 2008 and 2012, we collected live and sub-recent ostracods from 333 sites. Hydrochemical parameters, such as temperature, electrical conductivity, pH as well as major and minor ion concentrations were measured at each site and show high variability between sites. Adult intact individuals from the most common ostracod taxa were selected and their shell chemistry analyzed. The trace elemental data for the living ostracods compared to the hydrological data provides a calibration dataset for further hydrological and thus climatological reconstruction. Mg/Ca, Sr/Ca and Ba/Ca ratios in ostracod shells provide information about past water temperature and salinity resulting from changes in precipitation vs. evaporation ratios and monsoon activity. Furthermore, Mn/Ca, Fe/Ca and U/Ca ratios are being explored as redox indicators to reconstruct oxygenation cycles.
To reconstruct the monsoon dynamics on the Tibetan Plateau, sediment cores from different lakes on an east-west transect were taken: two long sediment cores from lakes Nam Co and Tangra Yumco, covering the past 20,000 years, and a short core from Lake Taro Co. The lakes feature an alkaline environment but show significant differences in their electrical conductivity ranging from 0.99 mS/cm (Taro Co) and 1.8 mS/cm (Nam Co) to 12 mS/cm (Tangra Yumco). The chemical composition of valves of the most common ostracod species in these lakes, Leucocytherella sinensis, was analyzed using laser ablation ICP-MS. The reconstruction provides a more extensive insight in past precipitation – evaporation balance and lake level change and provides clues about the interaction between the different air masses (Indian Ocean Summer Monsoon, East Asian Summer Monsoon and Westerlies) and thus monsoonal dynamics.