Workshop: Cast, Cut, Sample and Analyze: A practical approach to processing speleothems for paleoclimate reconstruction

11.05 - 14.05.2014
Miami, USA
Contact person:
Ali Pourmand, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Workshop report: 
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Participants have the opportunity to experience processing speleothems during a hands-on educational workshop, which will be organized over four days at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the University of Miami.

Workshop registration is free for qualified applicants. Participants are responsible for accommodation and travel expenses. Financial aid of up to 500 USD is available for qualified applicants as travel assistance.
Graduate students and early career scientists are particularly encouraged to apply.

Registration deadline is March 31, 2014.


Over the last few decades, speleothems have emerged as one of the most significant archives for paleoclimate reconstruction around the globe. These records can be dated independently with U-Th-Pb geochronology and their high-resolution nature has the potential to rival the crown jewel of paleoclimate data: the ice records. Due to their fragile structure and often complex depositional history, however, speleothems must be processed with great care in order to provide accurate information about past climate regimes.

The Neptune Isotope Lab (NIL) and Stable Isotope Lab (SIL) at the Rosenstiel school of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the University of Miami will provide selected participants with the opportunity to experience processing speleothems during a hands-on educational workshop.

The main goal of this workshop is to equip participants with the skills needed to properly extract climate proxy data from speleothems, and potentially other similar carbonate deposits.

Workshop programme

Day 1: The participants will cast speleothems in epoxy resin and learn how to cut, polished and scan them for elemental profiling on an Avaatech XRF core scanner at Dr. Larry Peterson's paleoclimatology lab (Club Mud). Samples will be drilled using a hand-drill and a microscope equipped with micro-milling capability for U-Th dating, fluid inclusion and stable isotope analysis.

Day 2: The participants will get introduced to the analysis of stable and clumped isotopes and fluid inclusions at the Stable Isotope Lab (SIL) with Dr. Peter Swart and his group. Select samples will be processed for U-Th dating at the Neptune Isotope Lab (NIL) with Dr. Ali Pourmand and his group. The samples will be spiked and U and Th will be separated through U/TEVA extraction chromatography. Analysis will be made on a Neptune multi-collector ICP-MS and the participants will be introduced to a newly developed algorithm in Mathematica software that streamlines data reduction, age calculation and propagation of uncertainties for U-Th geochronology by MC-ICP-MS.

Day 3. The activities of the first two days will be summarized, followed by presentations from select participants and key speakers.

To register

Registration is free. The last date to submit your application to register is March 31, 2014.

Additional details will be made available here soon along with educational videos and materials.

Please contact Dr. Ali Pourmand if you have any questions about the workshop.