Uranium series dating of speleothems

Christoph Spötl, Ronny Boch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Radioactive decay of Uranium and Thorium isotopes at constant rates provides a tool to determine the age of speleothems with high precision and accuracy. As with any dating method a fundamental prerequisite is the lack of post-depositional alteration, that is, no gain or loss of isotopes within the decay chain of interest. Using state-of-the-art instrumentation this method allows dating speleothems between essentially zero and ca. 600,000 years before present. Multiple age determinations are typically performed along the extension axis of a stalagmite in order to decipher its detailed growth history. Uranium series chronology of speleothems not only provides useful constraints on speleogenetic processes, but forms the backbone of the increasingly important scientific field using stalagmites (and less commonly flowstone) as paleoenvironmental archives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Caves
EditorsWilliam White, David Culver, Tanja Pipan
PublisherElsevier B.V.
ISBN (Electronic)9780128141250
ISBN (Print)9780128141243
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2019

Fields of Expertise

  • Advanced Materials Science

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