New isotopic data on karst development in the northern Kraków-Wieluń Upland (southern Poland)

Helena Hercman, Michał Gąsiorowski, Grzegorz Sujka


The Kraków-Wieluń Upland is one of the major palaeokarst regions in Poland. However, the stages of karst development in this area are neither well documented nor reconstructed. A series of samples from a new location in the vicinity of Raciszyn was analysed. On the basis of the results of U-series dating, four phases of speleothem deposition were distinguished: (1) older than 600 ka, (2) from more than 600 ka to 290 ka, (3) around 150 ka, and the youngest (4), younger than 3 ka. On the basis of all geochronological data from the region, eight stages of karst development were described. The structure of the oldest speleothems indicates even more stages of deposition and erosion that cannot be recognized using the 230Th/234U dating method. These results indicate that the initial creation of empty spaces in the limestone took place in pre-Pleistocene time. After 600 ka ago, climatic conditions were stable for more than 300 ka, allowing the continuous deposition of speleothems. Several episodes of erosion, deposition of clastic sediments and speleothem growth during the Middle and Early Pleistocene were described. This variability of the sedimentation regime clearly reflects climate changes during that period.

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