Floral and faunal evolution
Speleothems tend to trap all kinds of things during their growth. This is a very useful circumstance offering the possibility of linking fossil plants and animals not only with precise radiometric ages but also proxies of climatic conditions prevalent during their lives. Our own research exploits two aspects of this - the first using speleothems to date contemporary vertebrate fossils such as our work on the Riversleigh World Heritage fossil mammal site:
Woodhead, J., Hand, S., Archer, M., Graham, I., Sniderman, K., Arena, D.A., Black, K., Godthelp, H., Creaser, P., Price, E. (2016) Developing a radiometrically-dated chronologic sequence for Neogene biotic change in Australia, from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area of Queensland. Gondwana Research 29, 153-167 (published online 2014).
and, more recently, development of methodologies to extract fossil pollens from speleothems providing some unique constraints on Neogene climate:
Sniderman, J.M.K., Woodhead, J.D., Hellstrom, J., Jordan, G.J., Drysdale, R.N., Tyler, J.J., Porch, N. (2016) Pliocene reversal of late Neogene aridification. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113, 1999-2004.
The latter paper received widespread media attention: