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Speleothems are valuable archives of climate change because of their extraordinary time resolution, which is unattainable in other terrestrial climate proxies. Analyses of 4796 ultraviolet fluorescent (UVf) layers observed in polished thin sections of a 15-cm-long speleothem collected from Raccoon Mountain Cave near Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, as well as 200 δ13C and δ18O measurements and 11 high-precision U/Th dates permit refined interpretations of middle and late Holocene paleoclimate records in the southeastern United States. Speleothem UVf layers average 0.015 mm, identical to the average growth rate determined for the middle and late Holocene portions of the speleothem (ca. 7600–400 yr B.P.) based on the U/Th ages and interval thicknesses. UVf layer counts between paired U/Th ages are also consistent with determined ages and further support their interpretation as annual layers. The middle Holocene is typified by 100–400 yr intervals of higher rainfall characterized by thin UVf layers (0.003–0.010 mm) and more-negative δ13C values (−3‰ to −6‰ Peedee belemnite [PDB]), punctuated by shorter periods (5–20 yr, rarely 50–100 yr) of lower rainfall with thicker UVf layers (0.030–0.080 mm) and less-negative δ13C values (−1‰ to −3‰ PDB); “extreme drought” events are characterized by both the thickest UVf layers (0.150–0.170 mm) and the least-negative δ13C values (+0.05‰ to −1‰ PDB). The late Holocene, in comparison, is characterized by overall wetter conditions and more regular (sinusoidal curve) behavior, suggesting 50–100 yr cycles of higher and lower rainfall, with UVf layers ranging from 0.005 to 0.030 mm/yr. Statistical analyses of UVf layer thicknesses using order-two momentum threshold vector autoregressive models (MTVAR2) quantify the relationship between δ13C and δ18O, dependent upon the momentum in the climate. This study demonstrates that thickness of annual layers in speleothems can be used to resolve detailed paleorainfall records, provided there is preservation of organic matter sufficient to excite UVf response; however, relationships among changes in rainfall amounts, stable isotope values of speleothem calcite, and thicknesses of UVf annual layers (≈growth rates) are not straightforward.

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