A high-resolution, absolute-dated deglacial speleothem record of Indian Ocean climate from Socotra Island, Yemen

Jeremy D. Shakun, Stephen J. Burns, Dominik Fleitmann, Jan Kramers, Albert Matter, Abdulkarim Al-Subary

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155 Citations (Scopus)


Stalagmite M1-5 from Socotra Island, Yemen in the northwest Indian Ocean provides a robust, high-resolution paleoclimate record from ∼ 27.4-11.1 ka based on 717 stable isotope and 28 230Th measurements. Variations in M1-5 oxygen isotope ratios (δ18O) are interpreted to be primarily driven by an amount effect related to changes in the mean position and/or intensity of convection of the intertropical convergence zone, the island's only source of precipitation. The M1-5 δ18O time series is strongly correlated to the Greenland ice cores, similar to an older Socotra speleothem deposited from 53-40 ka [S.J. Burns, D. Fleitmann, A. Matter, J. Kramers, A. Al-Subbary, Indian Ocean climate and an absolute chronology over Dansgaard/Oeschger events 9 to 13, Science 301 (2003) 1365-1367], indicating that a North Atlantic-Indian Ocean cold-dry/warm-wet teleconnection persisted through the end of the last glacial period. Peak aridification occurred at ∼ 23 ka and a gradual increase in moisture thereafter was interrupted by an abrupt drying event at ∼ 16.4 ka, perhaps related to Heinrich event 1. Indian Ocean rainfall increased dramatically during the Bølling period and then decreased continuously and gradually through the Allerød and Younger Dryas. The Holocene began abruptly with increased precipitation at 11.4 ka and was followed by a major but short-lived drying during the Preboreal Oscillation at ∼ 11.2 ka. M1-5 is highly correlated to the Dongge Cave record from 15.5-11 ka, suggesting much of the Indian Ocean monsoon region responded similarly to the major climate changes of the last deglaciation. The transitions into the Younger Dryas and to a lesser extent the Bølling are remarkably gradual in M1-5, as they are in all other Asian speleothem records, occurring over several centuries. These gradual transitions are in striking contrast to high-resolution records from around the North Atlantic basin where the transitions are extremely abrupt and generally occur in under a century. This spatially variable pattern of climate change is consistent with an Atlantic origin for these deglacial climate events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-456
Number of pages15
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Indian monsoon
  • Socotra
  • deglaciation
  • intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ)
  • speleothem
  • uranium-series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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