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Ice genesis and its long-term dynamics in Scărişoara Ice Cave, Romania

Author(s): A. Perşoiu | A. Pazdur

Journal: The Cryosphere Discussions
ISSN 1994-0432

Volume: 4;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 1909;
Date: 2010;
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The paleoclimatic significance of the perennial ice deposit in Scărişoara Ice Cave has been remarked since the early 20th century, but a clear understanding of the processes involved in the genesis, age and long-term dynamics of ice hampered all attempts to extract valuable data on past climate and vegetation changes. In this paper, we present a model of ice genesis and dynamics, based on stable isotopes, ice level monitoring (modern and archived) and radiocarbon dating of organic matter found in the ice. Ice in Scărişoara Ice Cave mostly consists of layers of lake ice, produced as liquid water freezes from top to bottom in mid-autumn, a mechanism that was also acting in the past, during the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. The ice block is not stable in shape and volume, being continuously modified by ablation on top, basal melting and lateral flow. Radiocarbon dating shows that the ice block is older than 1200 years, the rate of ice flow and basal melting suggesting that the ice could be much older.
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