Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
The Cryosphere, 5, 45–53, 2011

Special issue: Ice Caves

The Cryosphere, 5, 45–53, 2011

Research article 31 Jan 2011

Research article | 31 Jan 2011

Ice genesis and its long-term mass balance and dynamics in Scărişoara Ice Cave, Romania

A. Perşoiu1 and A. Pazdur2 A. Perşoiu and A. Pazdur
  • 1University of South Florida, Department of Geology, 4202 E Fowler Ave., SCA 528, Tampa, 33620, Fl, USA
  • 2Silesian University of Technology, Institute of Physics, Department of Radioisotopes (GADAM Centre of Excellence), Krzywoustego 2, 44–100 Gliwice, Poland

Abstract. The paleoclimatic significance of the perennial ice deposit in Scărişoara Ice Cave has been remarked on since the early 20th century, but a lack of understanding of the processes involved in the genesis, age and long-term dynamics and volume fluctuations of ice hampered all attempts to extract valuable data on past climate and vegetation changes. In this paper, we present a model of ice genesis and dynamics, based on stable isotopes, ice level monitoring (modern and archived) and radiocarbon dating of organic matter found in the ice. Ice in this cave mostly consists of layers of lake ice, produced as liquid water freezes from top to bottom in mid-autumn, and floor ice, produced as inflow water in winter freezes on top of the lake ice. This mechanism was also acting in the past, during the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. The ice block is not stable in shape and volume, being continuously modified by ablation on top and sides, basal melting and lateral flow. Radiocarbon dating shows that the ice block is older than 1000 years, but ice flow and differential basal melting suggesting that the ice could be much older.

Special issue