|Laura entering the cave; getting in and out is a tight squeeze!
My PhD project is focussed on producing a record of past climatic and environmental change between 50,000 – 30,000 years ago in the northern Iberian Peninsula. It was during this period that the last Neanderthals disappeared from our planet and it is believed by some that their demise was related to changes in climate. During this time period a series of abrupt and severe climatic events are known to have occurred across the Northern Hemisphere. These events, known as Heinrich Events, led to widespread cooling and aridity across the Northern Hemisphere, with each event lasting approximately 1000 years.
|Speleothem sample from Perlas Cave after being cut at BGS
After nine months of working on this project I have established a cave monitoring regime in Cueva de las Perlas (northern Iberia) to determine how the climate signal is being transferred into modern speleothem calcite. In addition, I have drilled and sampled numerous speleothems for uranium-series dating. After the dates come back we will select speleothems of appropriate age for further geochemical analyses including oxygen and carbon isotopes, further uranium-series dating and trace elements. All the geochemistry is being done at the British Geological Survey.
Laura is a PhD student at Lancaster University, supervised by Dr Peter Wynn and Prof Phil Barker and at the BGS supervised by Prof Melanie Leng and Dr Stephen Noble