Water release patterns of heated speleothem calcite and hydrogen isotope composition of fluid inclusions

S. Verheyden, D. Genty, O. Cattani, M.R. van Breukelen

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Speleothem fluid inclusions are a potential paleo-precipitation proxy to reconstruct past rainwater isotopic composition (δ18O, δD). To get a better insight in the extraction of inclusion water from heated speleothem calcite, we monitored the water released from crushed and uncrushed speleothem calcite, heated to 900 °C at a rate of 300 °C/h, with a quadrupole mass spectrometer. Crushed calcite released water in three not well individualised peaks between 25 and 360 °C, 360 and 650 °C and between 650 and 800 °C while uncrushed calcite released water in two distinct temperature intervals: between 25 and 550 °C and between 550 and 900 °C.

    Water from two speleothems from the Han-sur-Lesse cave was recovered using three different techniques: i) the crushing and heating to 360 °C technique, ii) the decrepitation by heating to 550 °C and iii) the decomposition by heating to 900 °C technique. Measurements of the δD of water recovered by the decomposition of Han-sur-Lesse calcite heated to 900 °C did not show a 20 to 30‰ offset as found by previous authors. However a difference of 7‰ was observed between water released before and after decomposition of the calcite. Water recovery from the Han-sur-Lesse samples suggests that a simple heating technique (up to 550 °C) without crushing could both (a) recover water with δD representative of that of the drip water and (b) double the water yield as compared to the crushing and heating method.

    Our study warns for possible contamination of the recovered inclusion water with hydration water of lime, responsible for the recovery of water with very negative δD values.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)266-281
    Number of pages16
    JournalChemical Geology
    Issue number1-2
    Early online date6 Nov 2007
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2008


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