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    Stalagmite evidence for East Asian winter monsoon variability and 18O-depleted surface water in the Japan Sea during the last glacial period

    Amekawa S, Kashiwagi, K, Hori M, Sone T, Kato H, Okumura T, Yu TL, Shen CC, Kano A

    Stalagmite paleoclimatelogy, East Asian winter monsoon, Last glacial period, Japan Sea, oxygen isotope ratio

    Oxygen isotopic time-series of two stalagmites (the Holocene FG01 and the last gracial FG02) from Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture. Lighter values of FG02 was due to 18O-depleted surface water of the Japan Sea, the source of water vapor.

    In the East Asian monsoon area, stalagmites generally record lower and higher oxygen isotope (δ18O) levels during warm humid interglacial and cold dry glacial periods, respectively. Here, we report unusually low stalagmite δ18O from the last glacial period (ca. 32.2–22.3 ka) in Fukugaguchi Cave, Niigata Prefecture, Japan, where a major moisture source is the East Asian winter monsoon (EAWM) that carries vapor from the warm surface of the Japan Sea. The δ18O profile of this stalagmite may imply millennial-scale changes, and high δ18O intervals that are related to Dansgaard–Oeschger (D–O) interstadials. More importantly, the stalagmite exhibits low overall δ18O values; the mean δ18O (− 8.87‰) is distinctly lower than the mid-Holocene mean of another stalagmite from the same cave (4.2–8.2 ka, − 7.64‰). An interpretation assuming a more intense EAWM and greater vapor transportation during the last glacial period, compared with the mid-Holocene, contradicts the limited inflow of the Tsushima Warm Current into the Japan Sea because of lowered sea level. Additionally, our model calculation using δ18O data from meteoric water indicated that the amount effect of winter meteoric water was insignificant (1.2‰/1000 mm). Low stalagmite δ18O for the last glacial period in Fukugaguchi Cave most likely resulted from 18O-depleted surface water, which developed in the isolated Japan Sea. The estimated amplitude of the δ18O decrease in surface water was ~ 3‰ at most, consistent with the abnormally low values for foraminifera (by ~ 2.5‰) in sediment during the last glacial period, shown by samples collected from the Japan Sea. This is the first terrestrial evidence of 18O depletion in Japan Sea surface water during the last glacial period.