Academic Commons


Palaeotemperature reconstruction during the Last Glacial from δ¹⁸O of earthworm calcite granules from Nussloch loess sequence, Germany

Prud’homme, Charlotte; Lécuyer, Christophe; Antoine, Pierre; Moine, Olivier; Hatté, Christine; Fourel, François; Martineau, François; Rousseau, Denis-Didier

The Nussloch loess–palaeosol sequence (Rhine Valley, Germany) is considered to be one of the most complete records of the last glacial period in Western Europe due to its very high sedimentation rate and its good chronological control. This sequence is therefore a good framework in which to develop new proxies for palaeoenvironmental reconstructions. In this study, we explore, for the first time, the potential of earthworm calcite granules as a new bio-indicator and climatic proxy of absolute air and soil temperature in the context of Last Glacial loess. These granules are composed of rhomboedric calcite crystals, organized in a radial crystalline structure. As these granules are individually generated by earthworms at a relative fast rate, they are expected to record intra-annual variations in the available sources of oxygen: percolating waters of meteoric origin. We extracted thirty earthworm calcite granules from 11 of 5 cm layers thick from tundra gley and brown soil horizons previously, dated at 45 to 23 ka. Oxygen isotope ratios were measured on each individual granule. The δ¹⁸O of calcite granules and interlinked transfer functions between water cycle, air and soil temperatures allowed us to estimate air temperatures ranging from 10 to 12±4°C, which most likely reflect the warm periods of the year when earthworms were the most active.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for DDR_EPSL_Prud'homme_2016.pdf DDR_EPSL_Prud'homme_2016.pdf application/pdf 1.05 MB Download File

Also Published In

Earth and Planetary Science Letters

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Biology and Paleo Environment
Published Here
January 16, 2018