Mid- to late-Holocene Indian Winter Monsoon Variability from a Terrestrial Record in Eastern and Southeastern Coastal Environments of Sri Lanka

Publication Title

The Holocene

Publication Date


Document Type





Bay of Bengal, India, Indian Ocean, Indian winter monsoon, Sri Lanka, terrestrial


Geology | Oceanography


The southeastern coastal plain of Sri Lanka contains Holocene sediment archives representing the winter monsoon variability because this region is protected from both summer monsoon and cyclonic rainfall. Chemical, biological, mineralogical, and physical climate proxies were studied in sediment cores extracted from three different coastal estuaries and lagoons situated on the southeastern coast to derive winter monsoon variability. These cores displayed minimum influence of sea level-related changes in sediments. Clay normalized proxy records suggest intervals of aridity from >7300 to ~6750, semi-aridity from ~6250 to 4600 yr BP, and aridity from ~4000 to 3000 and ~1100 toBP, with a short wet interval from ~6500 to 6250 cal. yr BP, and a wet interval from ~3000 to 1500 yr BP. Our results match the timing of previously published climate events for Holocene variations in the Indian summer monsoon. Wavelet analysis of the detrended climate proxy records identify significant periodicities at: ~20 ~28–32, ~64, ~100, ~128, ~192, ~256 yr in our data. Most of these periodicities are consistent with known solar irradiance cycles, which drive the decadal- to centennial-scale variability of the summer monsoon. Our multiproxy record for mid- to late-Holocene climate in southeastern Sri Lanka documents that Indian winter monsoon variability is statistically similar to Indian summer monsoon variability, suggesting similar forcing mechanisms.