In May 2016 we hosted colleagues from the National Taiwan University at the Earth Science Institute SAS in Banská Bystrica, our partners in research and dating of cave paleoclimatic archives.
Professor Chuan-Chou Shen is a leader of High-Precision Mass Spectrometry and Environment Change Laboratory (HISPEC) in Taipei, his main scientific scope is dating speleothems by U-Th decay series. Thanks to the high precision of measurement and strict anti-contamination measures, the laboratory is ranked among the world top and moves the dating limits beyond 800,000 years. In his exciting talk he showed us the most interesting scientific results of his lab – from dating earthquakes by means of coral microatolls, through records of climatic changes triggered by historical volcanic eruptions to mysterious coral pyramids of ancient Pacific cultures. After short lab-tour and technical discussions about analytical methods we moved to Liptov to start our research schedule.
A five-day field program was focused on deep perception of permafrost-related cryogenic processes in our caves and wider paleoclimatic context – the hard work in caves (Zlomiská, Demänovské jaskyne, Okno) was alternating with excursions to glacial landscapes in Tatra Mts. (Popradské pleso, Hincovo pleso) and pliocene travertine deposits (Dreveník). The touch with fossil permafrost mediated by cryogenic breaking and authigenic calcite was an authentic experience that convinced our Taiwanese colleagues about rationale of our research. Dating of samples drilled from cryogenically affected speleothems will constrain periods of permafrost thawing during last glacial. If suitable, they will be used to construct high-resolution stable isotope paleoclimatic curves.
Our team – Monika Orvošová, Pavel Herich, Ľubica Luhová, Juraj Šurka, and Rastislav Milovský spent together with Chuan-Chou Shen (沈川洲) and his student Hsun-Ming Hu (胡訓銘) a tiring but very fruitful week that was enlivened with intercultural interaction and playful lessons of Chinese orthography.
Text: Rastislav Milovský
Photo: Chuan-Chou Shen
Translated by: Marek Vďačný