A stalagmite in Western Australia has revealed regular, low-intensity fires before European arrival and infrequent, high-intensity fires afterwards.
To look inside a stalagmite is to look back in time tens of thousands of years to see how the Earth’s climate patterns have shaped the world we live in today.
Caves are easily forgotten when fire rips through the bush, but despite their robustness the long-term impact of frequent, unprecedented fire seasons presents a new challenge for subsurface geology.
UNSW-led scientists studying a cave in Western Australia have shown that stalagmites formed by mineral-rich water drips from the ceiling could help reveal past wildfires that burned above the cave.
New discoveries concerning the connection between surface and cave climate will help improve the accuracy of climate signals contained in cave formations, write Gabriel Rau, Andy Baker, Mark Cuthbert and Martin Sogaard Andersen.
Stalagmites preserve a history of past climate and UNSW research has shown that there’s a correlation between periods of wet and dry and human migration, write Andy Baker and Bryce Kelly