This project is linked to two PhD theses on trace elements in Holocene speleothems in order to compare with the reconstruction from Eemian speleothems:

  • Allan Mohammed (2010 – present), “Holocene paleoenvironmental reconstructions from speleothem and peat bog archives: Natural vs anthropogenic impacts”, ULg. Promotors: N. Fagel and S. Verheyden.
  • Van Rampelbergh Maite (2010 – present), “Seasonal palaeoclimatic reconstruction of NW-European climate of the last 2000 years”, VUB. Promotors: Ph. Claeys, E. Keppens and S. Verheyden.

Bivalve-speleothem compared reconstruction of Eemian climate and environment of the Belgian coast in the context of ongoing global warming

In the current context of global warming, the scientific debate on future sea-level changes suggests a much higher sea level by 2100 than projected in the 4th assessment report (IPCC), due to a possible instability of ice sheets under rapid warming and/or warmer than present conditions. The Last Interglacial (LIG) period or marine isotope stage (MIS) 5e, provides insights into the climate processes and impacts under warmer than present conditions.

This project aims the reconstruction of climatic and environmental variability during the Eemian period, based on an intercomparison of two independent geological archives 1) marine carbonate bivalves from coastal sedimentary cores from the SW Belgian coastal tidal plain and 2) independently dated low Mg calcite speleothems (chemical cave deposits) from Belgian and French caves through close collaboration between three Federal Scientific Institutes, the Geological Survey of Belgium and the Malacology section of the RBINS, the Geology and mineralogy Department of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) and the ‘weather forecast and climate information’ department of the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI), as well as other (international) laboratories in the frame of the starting EU-FP7 Past4future project.

Speleothems offer the possibility of precise U-series dating of climatic and environmental information contained in the chemical and stable isotopic content of both proxies. The project will lead to the elaboration of precisely-dated ‘two-proxy’ climatic and environmental variability records of Eemian and to a refinement of the chronology and time resolution of the coastal environmental information from the sedimentary cores collection of the RBINS. The obtained information will serve as base for a better insight in possible future changes of the Belgian coastal plain in the context of current global warming and associated sea-level rise.

Special thanks to:

  • Michel Gewelt – volunteer scientific collaborator
  • Etienne Lannoy – guide and water sampler at the Caves of Han (

Related publications

Conference Paper

  • Allan, M. et al. High-resolution of trace elements (Mg, U, Sr, Ba and Zn) in speleothems as Holocene palaeoclimatic proxies: Père Noël cave, Belgium. Geophysical Research Abstracts (Union, Egeoscience) 15, (2013).
  • Innocent, C. , M, R. , Verheyden, S. & E, P. - G. In-situ U-Th dating of speleothems by LA-MC-ICP-MS - preliminary results. Abstract book of the 10th Applied Isotope Geochemistry Conference, AIG-10- September 22-27th - 2013- Budapest. Central European Geology 56, 79 (2013).
  • Mcquiggan, K. , Gillikin, D. P. & Verheyden, S. A 5,000-year record of trace elements and stable isotopes in a Belgian speleothem. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting - 27-30 October, Denver, Colorado USA. Abstracts with Programs. (America, G. Society of) 45, 341-12 (2013).
  • Van Rampelbergh, M. et al. Sub-seasonally resolved d18O, d13C, Mg, Sr, Ba, U and Zn records from a Belgian speleothem covering the last 700 years. AGU - Fall Meeting abstracts (Union, A. Geoscience) PP31A-1856, (2013).
  • Verheyden, S. , Bogemans, F. , Backeljau, T. & Baeteman, C. Lithostratigraphic and geochemical study of coastal deposits in Belgium. Implications for the age of the deposits and for bivalve-speleothem compared environmental reconstruction. Geophysical Research Abstracts (Union, Egeoscience) 15, (2013).
  • Verheyden, S. , Genty, D. & Wainer, K. . The penultimate deglaciation and the Last Interglacial as registered in speleothems. Geophysical Research Abstracts (Union, Egeoscience) 15, (2013).
  • Journal Article

  • Genty, D. , Verheyden, S. & Wainer, K. Speleothem records over the penultimate deglaciation and the Last Interglacial. Pages news 21, 24-25 (2013).
  • Verheyden, S. & Genty, D. . Lifting the veil on speleothem sampling. Pages news 21, 5 (2013).
Other member(s)
Yves Quinif – Fac. Polytechnique, Université de Mons- Belgium
Luc André - Royal Museum for Central Africa, Belgium
Eddy Keppens and Maité Van Rampelbergh, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
David Gillikin, Geology, Union College, Schenectady, NY, USA
Dominique Genty, LSCE-CEA-Paris-France
Hai Cheng and Dr Laurence Edwards, Univ. of Minnesota, USA
The BispEemproject is a A1 project funded by the Belgian Science Policy Office – Belspo.
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