Dating cave sediments

Dating cave sediments by the application of the palaeomagnetic method – magnetostratigraphy – is a difficult and sometimes risky task, as the method is comparative in its principles and does not provide numerical ages.For dating clastic cave sediments and speleothems it is limited by the complex conditions occurring underground so that it is often necessary to combine it with other methods that offer supplementary absolute-, calibrate-, relative- or correlate-ages.This example shows how the limitations of the different dating methods can be compensated in part by careful observations and the “strengths” of other methods, and many different results are needed to reconstruct the sedimentation history in a "restricted" environments like caves. SPÖTL et al.(2006): The last and the Penultimate Interglacial as Recorded by Speleothems From a Climatically Sensitive High-Elevation Cave Site in the Alps.

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In contrast, Atapuerca is a sedimentary infill where sediment (and animals) fell into a preexisting cavity.Interpretation of magnetostratigraphic results faces other serious problems that may endanger palaeomagnetic studies in given caves if they are not detected.The sedimentary fills of a number of profiles are separated into individual sequences and cycles, divided by breaks in deposition (unconformities).The sediments in the Mammoth Cave System were an integral part of how the cave was formed.The sediments reveal the evolution of the cave system, and how cave development is tightly coupled to river incision and aggradation.

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