South Pole

Dynamics of pedogenic carbonate growth in the monsoonal tropical domain


Pedogenic carbonate is widespread at mid latitudes where warm and dry conditions favor soil carbonate growth from spring to fall. The mechanisms and timing of pedogenic carbonate formation are more ambiguous in the tropical domain, where long periods of soil water saturation and high soil respiration enhance calcite dissolution. This paper provides stable carbon, oxygen and clumped isotope values from Quaternary and Miocene pedogenic carbonates in the tropical domain of Myanmar, in areas characterized by warm (>18°C) winters and annual rainfall up to 1,700 mm. We show that carbonate growth in Myanmar is delayed to the driest and coldest months of the year by sustained monsoonal rainfall from mid spring to late fall. The range of isotopic variability in Quaternary pedogenic carbonates can be solely explained by temporal changes of carbonate growth within the dry season, from winter to early spring. We propose that high soil moisture year-round in the tropical domain narrows carbonate growth to the driest months and makes it particularly sensitive to the seasonal distribution of rainfall. This sensitivity is also enabled by high winter temperatures, allowing carbonate growth to occur outside the warmest months of the year. This high sensitivity is expected to be more prominent in the geological record during times with higher temperatures and greater expansion of the tropical realm. Clumped isotope temperatures, δ13C and δ18O values of tropical pedogenic carbonates are impacted by changes of both rainfall seasonality and surface temperatures; this sensitivity can potentially be used to track past tropical rainfall distribution.

Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems