Multiproxy record of monsoon variability from the Ganga Plain during 400–1200 A.D

TitleMultiproxy record of monsoon variability from the Ganga Plain during 400–1200 A.D
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSingh, DSen, Gupta, AK, Sangode, SJ, Clemens, SC, Prakasam, M, Srivastava, P, Prajapati, SK
JournalUpdated Quaternary Climatic Research in parts of the Third Pole Selected papers from the HOPE-2013 conference, Nainital, India

Understanding on the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM) variability is chiefly based upon the marine proxies and a few continental records. The Ganga Plain, one of the most densely populated regions of the world marked by intensive cultivation of monsoon dependent crops and a rich cultural history, is not yet well understood in the context of monsoon variability. We present here a 400–1200 A.D. AMS radiocarbon dated record of Ropan Chhapra tal in the Central Ganga Plain using sedimentology, environmental magnetism, and stable isotope of oxygen for ISM variability. The environmental magnetic parameters (χlf, χARM, SIRM/χlf, S-Ratio, B(0)CR and HIRM) inferred antiferromagnetic mineralogy (hematite and/or goethite) independent of grain size variation during 400–900 A.D., depicting climate variability within warm humid to warm arid conditions favouring stronger ISM seasonality. Prevalence of ferrimagnetic mineralogy under less oxygenated conditions intermittently demonstrates an altered catchment regime or possibly in response to stronger winter monsoon. The higher δ18O values around 500, 580 and 740 A.D. indicate warm and arid conditions under weak ISM. The lower δ18O values around 480, 540 and 700 A.D. and from 900 to 1200 A.D. occur during warm and humid conditions indicating maximum intensity of the ISM. Increased silt content from 800 A.D. onwards is due to increased surface runoff in response to enhanced precipitation, and the higher clay percentage around 500, 580 and 740 indicates low-energy (ponding) conditions under weak ISM. The well sorted nature of sediment indicates consistency of the lacustrine environments under fairly uniform energy and constant bottom water conditions, under varied monsoonal intensity. Combinations of sediment textures and stable isotope indicate intense ISM at ∼480 and ∼540 A.D. with flooding around ∼700 A.D. and a weak monsoon at 580 and 740 A.D., with drought at 500 A.D. During ∼900–1200 A.D. the multiproxy record suggests strong summer monsoon synchronous with Medieval Warm Period (MWP), whereas after 1200 A.D. the weak monsoon phase coincides with the onset of the Little Ice Age (LIA).