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Possible earthquakes recorded in stalagmites from a cave in south-central Indiana

Samuel V. Panno, Mirona I. Chirienco, Robert A. Bauer, Craig C. Lundstrom, Zhaofeng Zhang and Keith C. Hackley
Possible earthquakes recorded in stalagmites from a cave in south-central Indiana
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America (September 2016) 106 (5): 2364-2375


The stalagmites collected from Donnehue's Cave, south-central Indiana, may record seismic events near the Wabash Valley fault system located in the midwestern United States. Results of uranium-thorium disequilibrium dating of four stalagmites showing pronounced shifts in their central growth axes, episodes of growth initiation/cessation, and results of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating of flood deposits within the cave reveal both the possibilities and problems associated with using stalagmites as indicators of seismic events. The first of a set of twin stalagmites, initiated about 300,000 yr B.P., recorded a major flood event (correlated with an OSL dated flood deposit) at about 246,000 yr B.P. as a central growth-axis shift and stopped growing at about 170,000 yr B.P. Other shifts present within this stalagmite contained embedded fine sediments associated with flooding. Its twin began growing at about 170,000 yr B.P., contained no shifts, and stopped growing at about 100,000 yr B.P. Both stalagmites resumed growing at about 6000 yr B.P. that overlaps in time, within sampling and analytical error, with an M (sub w) 7.1-7.3 event recorded by liquefaction features dated, by others, at 6100+ or -200 yr B.P. Another stalagmite began growing at about 55,000 yr B.P. and recorded multiple central growth-axis shifts showing dissolution and fine sediment layers associated with flood events within the cave. The third and youngest stalagmite contained no evidence of flooding and was initiated about 1800 yr B.P. (the same time, within error, as an M (sub w) 6.2 seismic event recorded in the Wabash Valley sediments). This stalagmite had shifts in its central growth axis that occurred at the same time (within statistical error) as New Madrid seismic zone events at A.D. 660 and 900, and contained a shifted regrowth layer that may be coincident with either the A.D. 1811-1812 series or the A.D. 1895 event.Online Material: Photographs of in situ stalagmites and of locations of flood deposit samples.

ISSN: 0037-1106
EISSN: 1943-3573
Serial Title: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Serial Volume: 106
Serial Issue: 5
Title: Possible earthquakes recorded in stalagmites from a cave in south-central Indiana
Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois State Geological Survey, Champlain, IL, United States
Pages: 2364-2375
Published: 20160913
Text Language: English
Publisher: Seismological Society of America, Berkeley, CA, United States
References: 36
Accession Number: 2016-087269
Categories: Quaternary geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 5 tables, geol. sketch map
N38°42'00" - N38°58'60", W86°42'00" - W86°17'60"
Secondary Affiliation: Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology, JPN, JapanNorthwestern University, USA, United StatesIsotech Laboratories, USA, United States
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, Seismological Society of America. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201643
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