Liquid-vapour homogenisation of fluid inclusions in stalagmites: Evaluation of a new thermometer for palaeoclimate research

Yves Krüger, Dominik Marti, Rita Hidalgo Staub, Dominik Fleitmann, Martin Frenz

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


We present a new approach to determine palaeotemperatures (mean annual surface temperatures) based on measurements of the liquid-vapour homogenisation temperature of fluid inclusions in stalagmites. The aim of this study is to explore the potential and the limitations of this new palaeothermometer and to develop a reliable methodology for routine applications in palaeoclimate research. Therefore, we have investigated recent fluid inclusions from the top part of actively growing stalagmites that have formed at temperatures close to the present-day cave air temperature.A precondition for measuring homogenisation temperatures of originally monophase inclusions is the nucleation of a vapour bubble by means of single ultra-short laser pulses. Based on the observed homogenisation temperatures (Th(obs)) and measurements of the vapour bubble diameter at a known temperature, we calculated stalagmite formation temperatures (Tf) by applying a thermodynamic model that takes into account the effect of surface tension on liquid-vapour homogenisation. Results from recent stalagmite samples demonstrate that calculated stalagmite formation temperatures match the present-day cave air temperature within ±0.2°C. To avoid artificially induced changes of the fluid density we defined specific demands on the selection, handling and preparation of the stalagmite samples. Application of the method is restricted to stalagmites that formed at cave temperatures greater than ~9-11°C. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)39-47
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Air
  • Atmospheric temperature
  • Caves
  • Mineralogy
  • Surface tension
  • Liquids
  • Fluid inclusion
  • Liquid-vapour homogenisation
  • Palaeoclimate
  • Stalagmite
  • Air temperature
  • Fluid densities
  • Formation temperature
  • Homogenisation
  • Liquid-vapour
  • Palaeotemperatures
  • Surface temperatures
  • Thermodynamic model
  • Vapour bubbles
  • Liquid–vapour homogenisation


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