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SISAL 5th workshop: Towards a global compilation of speleothem trace element records

Jerusalem, Israel
Workshop report
Contact person
Yuval Burstyn
E-Mail address
Working groups
Meeting Category

The PAGES' SISAL (Speleothem Isotopes Synthesis and Analysis) working group will hold its fifth workshop, titled "Towards a global compilation of speleothem trace element records", from 28 February to 3 March 2022 in Jerusalem, Israel and online.

*Update as per February 2022*
"This year’s SISAL workshop will take place at Hebrew University in Jerusalem from Feb 28th until Mar 3rd. While registration for the workshop itself is now closed, we welcome you to join for the first day of the workshop which consists of seminars. There will be lecture talks on projects and milestones in SISAL phase 1 and 2, regional speleothem research in the Levant, model-data comparison using SISAL records, accompanied by many interesting elevator pitches spanning the wide range from data assimilation to cave monitoring."


The Fredy & Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences, Jerusalem and online.


Between 25 and 30 active SISAL members, invited experts and Early Career Researchers (ECRs). We aim to organize travel and stay funding for as many participants as possible, particularly ECRs and researchers from developing countries. 


This workshop is for SISAL members and speleothem researchers engaging with trace element measurements in karst, cave drip waters and speleothems. We would also like to invite participants whose research focuses on robust statistical methods of reducing instrumental trace element data and comparing large datasets from multiple speleothems. An additional aim is to ask members of allied PAGES and other groups working on hydroclimate, process and proxy system models, and data assimilation.

SISAL is driven by ECRs, and we are actively seeking to attract ECRs and researchers from developing countries with research interests that intersect with SISAL's objectives and those who might become involved in SISAL.

Local scientists from Israel will participate and contribute to the training sessions.

Join the opening day symposium via Zoom on 28 February


Meeting ID: 891 6440 9025

Passcode: 708654

You can join for all talks starting at 9am Israel time or only those that interest you.  

> View schedule

Local Organizing Committee-Israel

  • Janica Buehler, Geo- and Environmental Research Center, Tübingen University, Germany.
  • Jonathan Keinan, Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • Dr. Yuval Burstyn, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Dr. Nikita Kaushal, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Dr. Yonatan Goldsmith, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Prof. Dr. Kira Rehfeld, Geo- and Environmental Research Center, Tübingen University, Germany.


In SISAL Phase 1, we focused on creating a speleothem database with standardised age models and further using the database for increased understanding of processes controlling speleothem carbon and oxygen isotope variability, as well as for isotope-enabled model evaluation.

In SISAL Phase 2, the SISAL WG explores cave monitoring data to establish robust modern baselines and increase process-based understanding of proxy interpretations. And augments the database with additional speleothem proxies, specifically, trace elements. These new datasets will improve large spatial and temporal scale interpretations previously achieved with the stable isotope records (SISALv2), in addition to providing independent paleoclimate information. 

This workshop will focus on adding targeted speleothem stable isotope and trace element data to update the database and facilitate discussion on planned projects for using this database to improve proxy interpretations and their potential for reconstructing regional hydroclimate patterns.

The main product of the workshop will be an updated SISAL database including trace element data and clearly outlined research projects and project groups. 


The workshop will address four key topics:

1. Assess the spatial and temporal distribution of stable isotope and trace element data and formulate targeted research questions and data entry.

2. Discuss best practices with trace element measurements, standards data and metadata fields, instrumental data reduction and uncertainty estimates.

3. Explore the use of forward and inverse process-based modelling of the climate-karst-cave system, focusing on the evolution trace elements.

4. Follow up on recent data-model comparison studies of isotopically enabled GCMs in various spatial resolutions and SISAL data. Discuss the possibility of using trace element datasets to resolve some of the discrepancies between models and isotope records. 


> View the schedule of the opening day symposium on 28 February

The workshop will kick-off with a one-day symposium where local hosts and invited speakers from the speleothem community will give talks on their ongoing work with climate in the region, SISAL members will review ongoing work with the SISAL database and planned work with the updated database. 

Additional sessions are planned on:

1) training researchers new to SISAL with database structure for their research needs;

2) discussing best practices for speleothem trace element data and metadata reporting and reduction;

3) Hackathon - coding essential scripts for the existing and new SISAL database for the benefit of the community;

4) Debugging-thon - uploading new datasets to the updated database and check for issues;

5) State-of-the-art in karst hydrogeochemistry - models, in-situ long-term studies, interpreting palaeo-records; and, lastly

6) SISAL phase 2 research - establishing plans, timelines and responsibilities addressing the goals outlined with SISAL Phase 2 including discussion and initial work on planned future projects. 

An optional field visit to the Soreq Cave is planned for the last day. This study site was used for several benchmark “cave calibration” studies aimed at better understanding how speleothems in the region record hydroclimate variability. 

Moreover, evenings will include social sessions to encourage collaborations with the host institution and cultural excursions to the host city of Jerusalem. 

Many of the workshop proceedings will be available live or recorded either as videos or as minutes of the meeting open for discussion. We hope to make this a permanent feature of future SISAL workshops.

Key speakers/participants

Cave monitoring remains a small community but with a global reach. We have contacted groups carrying out cave monitoring studies in different regions and we hope to involve their current ECRs and local monitoring members in the workshop.


  • Dr. Mira Bar-Mathews (GSI)
  • Dr. Avner Ayalon (GSI)
  • Dr. Nathan Steiger (HUJI)
  • Prof. Amos Frumkin
  • Dr. Yuval Burstyn
  • Dr. Yoni Goldsmith
  • Prof. Dr. Hagit Affek
  • Lilach Gonen
  • Dr. Anton Vask
  • Dr. Assaf Hochman
  • Dr. Moshe Armon
  • Yael Tal
  • Israela Musen
  • Boaz Langford
  • Dr. Yoav Ben Dor
  • Dr. Alex Brittigham
  • Prof. Dr. Ron Shaar
  • Prof. Dr. Amos Frumkin
  • Yonathan Keinan


  • Prof. Dr. Kira Rehfeld (GUZ)
  • Janica Bühler
  • Dr. Nikita Kaushal
  • Dr. Elan Levy
  • Vitor Azevedo Alves
  • Dr. Andrea Columbu
  • Laura Endres
  • Dr. Valdir Novello
  • Chloe Snowling
  • Dr. Ezgi Ünal Imer
  • Dr. Jenny Maccali
  • Dr. Belen Martrat
  • Dr. Sophie Warken
  • Dr. Lucas Vimpere
  • Dr. Sophie Verheyden
  • Danny Vargas
  • Alica Paine
  • Dr. Franziska Lechleitner
  • Dr. Monika Markowska


  • Phanindra Reddy Annapureddy
  • Dr. Naveen Gandhi
  • Anupam Samanta
  • Dr. Nitesh Sinha
  • Rahul Pawer
  • Prof. Vinod Chandra Tewari
  • Dr. Priyantan Gupta
  • Dr. Quoc Dinh Nguyen
  • Dr Hong-Wei Chiang
  • Dr. Som Dutt
  • Dr. Jun Hu


  • Dr. Kerstin Braun
  • Dr. Allegra N LeGrande
  • Dr. Natasha Sekhon
  • Dr. Xiaojing Du
  • Dr. Tyler Huth
  • Dr. Yassine Ait Brahim


  • Dr. Pauline Treble, ANSTO, Australia
  • Dr. Andrea Borsato
  • Dr. Duncan Keenan-Jones
  • Carol Tadros
  • Central and South America
  • Dr. Crisanto Silva Aguilera


Registration is closed.

Financial support

We intend to support the travel costs of ECRs and researchers from developing countries, for which we have reserved 10-15 places, depending on COVID restrictions. Travel and accommodations for ECRs and additional participants that meet the support criteria are achieved with financial support from PAGES and the Minerva Stiftung. For established researchers, individual funding will be assessed on a case by case basis. 

Further information

Contact the application coordinator Janica Buehler or the local organiser Yuval Burstyn for workshop related questions: (jbuehler[at]iup[dot]uni-heidelberg[dot]de) (Yuval[dot]burstyn[at]mail[dot]huji[dot]ac[dot]il)

General questions should be addressed to the SISAL Phase 2 Steering committee: (sisal[dot]sc2[at]gmail[dot]com)

Find out more about SISAL and sign up to its mailing list.


*This workshop was originally scheduled for November 2020, then rescheduled for October 2021.*