Uplift of the Tibetan Plateau is manifest not only in widespread denudation, but also by an increased deposition rate of sediment, near or far from the exhumed regions. Our results indicate that the mass accumulation rate (MAR) of eolian dust increased between ∼1.1 and ∼0.9 myr ago. We associate this increase in MAR and median grain size with uplift of the Tibetan Plateau and its adjacent regions during this period. This Middle Pleistocene uplift can also be evidenced by the age of volcanism in the marginal region, the existence of thick conglomerate deposits surrounding the uplifted plateau, and the increased sedimentation rate of lacustrine deposits in the Qaidam Basin (northeastern Tibetan Plateau) between ∼1.1 and ∼0.9 myr ago. The correlation between the loess and marine records indicates that after ∼0.9 myr ago, these two records correlate well. This good correlation probably suggest that the Middle Pleistocene upheaval event not only brought the plateau into the cryosphere, but also enhanced the coupling of regional-scale Chinese loess transportation and deposition to the global ice volume variations through its effects on glacial grinding, rock denudation, and east Asian monsoonal circulation.
Bulk geochemistry of ~ 1.8 Ma lacustrine claystone at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, is controlled principally by the geochemistry of ultrafine (< 0.1 μm), authigenic clay minerals. Authigenic clays have an average structural formula of (Si3.83Al0.17)(Al0.43Fe0.49Mg0.84)(Na0.99K0.22Ca0.16)O10(OH)2; octahedral composition varies, with Mg/(Al + Fe) ranging from 0.7 to 2.3. These clay minerals have a complex history of interaction with saline, alkaline water, followed by secondary diagenetic reactions that leached Mg in freshwater paleoenvironments. Lateral variations in whole-rock and clay geochemistry show westward enrichment in Mg, from Mgoct = 0.6–1.6. This is consistent with persistence of saline, alkaline Paleolake Olduvai to the west, and the presence of groundwater wetlands and other freshwater paleoenvironments to the east. Stone artifact mass density also varies systematically across the basal Bed II deposits, ranging from 100.0 to 104.3 g of artifacts per cubic meter of excavated sediment. Significant correlation is found between clay geochemistry and the density of artifacts excavated from associated archeological trenches (r2 = 0.59, p < 0.01). This relationship supports models of hominin land use in which artifact use and discard is concentrated near freshwater paleoenvironments such as wetlands associated with surface and groundwater discharge. Independent paleoenvironmental proxies such as clay geochemistry allow quantitative hypothesis testing to improve our understanding of early hominin behavior and paleoecology.
Chemical analyses of the acid-soluble and clay-size fractions of sediment samples (1500-yr resolution) reveal oscillations of lake salinity and of glacial advances in core OL-92 back to 155,000 yr B.P. Relatively saline conditions are indicated by the abundance of carbonate and smectite (both pedogenic and authigenic), reflected by Ca, Sr, and Mg in the acid-soluble suite, and by Cs2O, excess MgO, and LOI (loss on ignition) in the clay-size fraction. Rock flour produced during glacial advances is represented by the abundance of detrital plagioclase and biotite in the clay-size fraction, the ratio of which remains essentially constant over the entire time span. These phases are quantitatively represented by Na2O, TiO2, Ba, and Mn in the clay fraction. The rock-flour record indicates two major ice-advances during the penultimate glacial cycle corresponding to marine isotope stage (MIS) 6, no major advances during the last interglaciation (entire MIS 5), and three major advances during the last glacial cycle (MIS 2, 3, and 4). The ages of the latter three correspond rather well to36Cl dates reported for Sierra Nevada moraines. The onset of the last interglaciation is shown by abrupt increases in authigenic CaCO3and an abrupt decrease in rock flour, at about 118,000 yr B.P. according to our time scale. In contrast, the boundary appears to be gradual in the δ18O record in which the change from light to heavy values begins at about 140,000 yrs B.P. The exact position of the termination, therefore, may be proxy-dependent. Conditions of high carbonate and low rock flour prevailed during the entire period from 118,000 yr B.P. until the glacial advance at 53,000 yr B.P. signaled the end of this long interglaciation.
Marine records from the Reykjanes Ridge indicate ice sheet variations and abrupt climate changes. One of these records, ice-rafted detritus (IRD), serves as a proxy for iceberg discharges that probably indicates ice sheet fluctuations. The IRD records suggest that iceberg discharge 68,000–10,000 yr B.P. happened more frequently than the 7000- to 10,000-yr spacing of the Heinrich events. An IRD peak 67,000 to 63,000 yr B.P. further suggests that the Middle Weichselian glaciation started about 12,000 yr earlier in the North Atlantic than in the Norwegian Sea. Several later IRD events, in contrast, correlate with Norwegian Sea IRD-rich layers and imply coeval ice sheet advances in the North Atlantic and the Norwegian Sea. Coccoliths in a core from the Reykjanes Ridge show distinct peaks in species that record occasional inflow of warm surface water during the last glaciation, as previously reported from the eastern Labrador Sea. High abundances of coccoliths, together with a decrease ofNeogloboquadrina pachydermasin. and relatively low δ18O values, imply enhanced advection of the North Atlantic Current 69,000–67,000 yr B.P., 56,000–54,000 yr B.P., 35,000–33,000 yr B.P., and 26,000–23,000 yr B.P. This advection provided a regional moisture source for extension of ice sheets onto the shelf. In contrast, most of the IRD events are characterized by cold polar surface water masses indicating rapid variations in ocean surface conditions.
The use of shaded digital topographic models to visualizes suites of topographic features, stratigraphy, and field mapping reveals newly recognized multiple moraines associated with oscillations of the remnants of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet in the Fraser Lowland along the western Washington–British Columbia border. Morphologic features show the extent of ice represented by Sumas Drift (ca. 11,600–10,000 ¹⁴ C yr B.P.), following ca. 3000 yr of retreat from the glacial maximum (Fraser Glaciation) positions 80 km south of Seattle and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The paleogeography of the ice margin and timing of ice retreat during the Sumas Stade is reconstructed and bracketed by 70 radiocarbon dates (24 on marine shells, 46 on wood and peat), which are secured by morphologic and stratigraphic evidence. Four topographically distinct phases of the Sumas deglaciation model are suggested.
Phase SI: 11,600–<11,400 ¹⁴ C yr B.P., outermost drift, scattered remnants of ice-contact deposits
Phase SII: 11,600–11,400 ¹⁴ C yr B.P., glacier readvance, building prominent moraine followed by glacier retreat
Phase SIII: 10,980–10,250 ¹⁴ C yr B.P., glacier readvance building of multiple moraines followed by glacier retreat
Phase SIV: >10,250–10,000? ¹⁴ C yr B.P., glacier readvance, building of inner moraine followed by glacier retreat
The paleoenvironments of late Pleistocene and early Holocene time on the Southern High Plains have been studied for decades, but regionally extensive or long-term, easily recoverable proxy climate indicators are difficult to find. The stratigraphy of valley fill and upland eolian deposits and stable-carbon isotope data, in addition to geographically limited paleontological data, now provide clues to the environment during this time, which includes the earliest, or Paleoindian period (∼11,200–8000 14C yr B.P.) of human occupation. During the Clovis occupation (∼11,200–10,900 14C yr B.P.), valleys contained perennial streams. This was followed in Folsom time (10,900–10,200 14C yr B.P.) by an abrupt change to lakes and ponds (with water levels fluctuating between several meters depth and no surface water) and marshes and accumulation of sheet sands on uplands, starting the earliest phase of construction of the regional dune fields. These changing conditions indicate a shift from relatively wetter to relatively drier conditions with episodic drought. Stable-C isotopes further indicate that warming characterized the Clovis–Folsom transition. During the rest of the Paleoindian period the environment was relatively cool but fluctuated between wetter and drier conditions with an overall trend toward drying that resulted in further enlargement of the dune fields and culminated in the warm, dry Altithermal beginning ∼8000 14C yr B.P. Clovis time probably was the wettest of any Paleoindian period in terms of runoff and spring discharge. The Folsom period was drier and was the earliest episode of regional wind erosion and eolian deposition and may have been the warmest of Paleoindian times. Evidence of a previously hypothesized “Clovis drought” in this region is sparse.
Pleistocene and Holocene vegetation dynamics in the American tropics are inferred largely from pollen in continental lake sediments. Maritime influences may have moderated climate and vegetation changes on Caribbean islands. Stable isotope (δ18O) study of a 7.6-m core from Lake Miragoane, Haiti, provided a high-resolution record of changing evaporation/precipitation (E/P) since ∼10,300 14C yr B.P. The Miragoane pollen record documents climate influences and human impacts on vegetation in Hispaniola. The δ18O and pollen data near the base of the core indicate cool, dry conditions before ∼10,000 14C yr B.P. Lake Miragoane filled with water in the early Holocene as E/P declined and the freshwater aquifer rose. Despite increasing early Holocene moisture, shrubby, xeric vegetation persisted. Forest expanded ∼7000 14C yr B.P. in response to greater effective moisture and warming. The middle Holocene (∼7000–3200 14C yr B.P.) was characterized by high lake levels and greatest relative abundance of pollen from moist forest taxa. Climatic drying that began ∼3200 14C yr B.P. may have driven some mesophilic animal species to extinction. The pollen record of the last millennium reflects pre-Columbian (Taino) and European deforestation. Long-term, Holocene vegetation trends in southern Haiti are comparable to trends from continental, lowland circum-Caribbean sites, suggesting a common response to regional climate change.
The abundance and lithic content of ice rafted detritus in glacial North Atlantic sediment cores vary abruptly on millennial time scales that have been correlated to Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles in the Greenland ice cores. There is growing evidence that various ice sheet outlets contributed increased iceberg fluxes at multiple discrete intervals, and the relative timing of iceberg discharges from different sources is important for understanding interactions between oceans and ice sheets. We present a provenance study based on 40Ar/39Ar dates of individual hornblende grains from 20 samples taken at 600 to 700 yr spacing between 10,500 and 22,000 yr B.P., from Orphan Knoll core EW9303-GGC31. Heinrich layers are characterized by a dominant Paleoproterozoic hornblende provenance consistent with published studies. A change in provenance between Heinrich events H2 and H1 indicates contributions of iceberg calving from the Newfoundland and southern Labrador margins. Between H1 and the Younger Dryas interval, Paleoproterozoic ice rafted grains remained dominant. The dominance of Baffin Island (or Greenland?) sources to the ice rafted detritus is ascribed to the retreat of the southern Laurentide ice sheet at about the time of H1—a retreat that isolated Newfoundland and southern Labrador ice from the shelf-slope boundary.
Millennium-old alerce trees (Fitzroya cupressoides (Mol.) Johnst.) have been used to develop a 1120-year reconstruction of the summer temperature departures for the Andes of northern Patagonia in Argentina. Four main climatic episodes can be distinguished in this proxy paleoclimatic record. The first, a cold and moist interval from A.D. 900 to 1070, was followed by a warm-dry period from A.D. 1080 to 1250 correlative with the Medieval warm epoch of Europe. Afterward, a long, cold-moist period followed from A.D. 1270 to 1670, peaking around A.D. 1340 and 1650. These cold maxima are contemporaneous with two principal Little Ice Age events registered in the Northern Hemisphere. Warmer conditions then resumed between A.D. 1720 and 1790. These episodes are supported by glaciological and palynological data in Patagonia. Following a cold period in the early 1800s, tree-ring indices have oscillated around the long-term mean, except for a warmer period from A.D. 1850 to 1890. Correlations between the Rio Alerce reconstruction and the regional weather stations indicate that the tree-ring variations are correlated with a homogeneous summer weather pattern covering Patagonia east of the Andes from 38° to 50°S.
Tree-ring data from subalpine conifers in the southern Sierra Nevada were used to reconstruct temperature and precipitation back to A.D. 800. Tree growth of foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana) and western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis ssp. australis) is influenced by nonlinear interactions between summer temperature and winter precipitation. Reconstruction of the separate histories of temperature and precipitation is feasible by explicitly modeling species and site differences in climatic response using response surfaces. The summer temperature reconstruction shows fluctuations on centennial and longer time scales including a period with temperatures exceeding late 20th-century values from ca. 1100 to 1375 A.D., corresponding to the Medieval Warm Period identified in other proxy data sources, and a period of cold temperatures from ca. 1450 to 1850, corresponding to the Little Ice Age. Precipitation variation is dominated by shorter period, decadal-scale oscillations. The long-term record presented here indicates that the 20th century is anomalous with respect to precipitation variation. A tabulation of 20- and 50-yr means indicates that precipitation equaling or exceeding 20th-century levels occurred infrequently in the 1000+-yr record.
Core OL-97A, retrieved from the depocenter of Owens Lake, represents a depositional history spanning the past 1000 yr. Among the 17 elements analyzed in the acid-leachable fractions of 315 salt-free samples (at ∼3 yr/sample), Mg and Li, which come chiefly from authigenic Mg-hydroxy-silicates, were found to have concentration variations reflecting lake salinity and climatic changes during the past. A total of 231 isotopic measurements on carbonates from the same samples in the upper 181 cm show that δ18O and δ13C values range from −5.66 to 0.12‰ (PDB) and 1.38 to 4.28‰ (PDB), respectively. The rate of change with time in δ18O records the rate of change in lake's volume due to climate fluctuations, whereas variations in δ13C reflect mainly variations in biological productivity, nutrient supply, and dissolved carbonate in the lake. Results indicate an effectively dry climate between A.D. 950 and 1220, corresponding to the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (a warm period in northern Europe), during which Owens Lake approached playa conditions. Wet climates prevailed during A.D. 1220–1480, producing relatively large and deep lakes. Beginning about A.D. 1550, the regional climate turned colder but had frequently oscillating precipitation. Six wet/dry cycles with ∼50-yr duration occurred between A.D. 1480 and 1760, during the later half of which Owens Lake became a playa. Since ∼A.D. 1880, the lake level has steadily dropped from its historic high stand under strong impact of human activity.
Using modern pollen and radiolarian distributions in sediments from the northwest Pacific and seas adjacent to Japan to interpret floral and faunal changes in core RC14-103 (44°02′N, 152°56′E), we recognize two major responses of the biota of eastern Hokkaido and the northwest Pacific to climatic changes since the last interglaciation. Relatively stable glacial environments (∼80,000–20,000 yr B.P.) were basically cold and wet (<4°C and ∼1000 mm mean annual temperature and precipitation, respectively) with boreal conijers and tundra/park-tundra on Hokkaido, and cool (<16°C) summer and cold (<1.0°C) winter surface temperatures offshore. Contrasting nonglacial environments (∼10,000–4000 yr B.P.) were warm and humid (>8°C and >1200 mm mean annual temperature and precipitation, respectively), supporting climax broadleaf deciduous forest with Quercus and Ulmus/Zelkova, with surface waters in the northwest Pacific characterized by warm (>1.5°C) winter and cold (10.4°–14.3°C) summer temperatures. Climatic evidence from RC14-103 shows a high degree of local and regional variation within the context of global climatic change. Correlative ocean and land records provide the detailed input necessary to assess local/regional responses to variations in other key elements (i.e., solar radiation, monsoonal variations) of the northeast Asian climate system.
A 90,000-yr record of environmental change before 18,000 cal yr B.P. has been constructed using pollen analyses from a sediment core obtained from Salar de Uyuni (3653 m above sea level) on the Bolivian Altiplano. The sequence consists of alternating mud and salt, which reflect shifts between wet and dry periods. Low abundances of aquatic species between 108,000 and 50,000 yr ago (such as Myriophyllum and Isoëtes) and marked fluctuations in Pediastrum suggest generally dry conditions dominated by saltpans. Between 50,000 yr ago and 36,000 cal yr B.P., lacustrine sediments become increasingly dominant. The transition to the formation of paleolake “Minchin” begins with marked rises in Isoëtes and Myriophyllum, suggesting a lake of moderate depth. Similarly, between 36,000 and 26,000 cal yr B.P., the transition to paleolake Tauca is also initiated by rises in Isoëtes and Myriophyllum; the sustained presence of Isoëtes indicates the development of flooded littoral communities associated with a lake maintained at a higher water level. Polylepis tarapacana-dominated communities were probably an important component of the Altiplano terrestrial vegetation during much of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and previous wet phases.
Numerous large landslide deposits occur in the Tien Shan, a tectonically active intraplate orogen in Central Asia. Yet their significance in Quaternary landscape evolution and natural hazard assessment remains unresolved due to the lack of "absolute" age constraints. Here we present the first 10Be exposure ages for three prominent (> 107 m3) bedrock landslides that blocked major rivers and formed lakes, two of which subsequently breached, in the northern Kyrgyz Tien Shan. Three 10Be ages reveal that one landslide in the Alamyedin River occurred at 11–15 ka, which is consistent with two 14C ages of gastropod shells from reworked loess capping the landslide. One large landslide in Aksu River is among the oldest documented in semi-arid continental interiors, with a 10Be age of 63–67 ka. The Ukok River landslide deposit(s) yielded variable 10Be ages, which may result from multiple landslides, and inheritance of 10Be. Two 10Be ages of 8.2 and 5.9 ka suggest that one major landslide occurred in the early to mid-Holocene, followed by at least one other event between 1.5 and 0.4 ka. Judging from the regional glacial chronology, all three landslides have occurred between major regional glacial advances. Whereas Alamyedin and Ukok can be considered as postglacial in this context, Aksu is of interglacial age. None of the landslide deposits show traces of glacial erosion, hence their locations and 10Be ages mark maximum extents and minimum ages of glacial advances, respectively. Using toe-to-headwall altitude ratios of 0.4–0.5, we reconstruct minimum equilibrium-line altitudes that exceed previous estimates by as much as 400 m along the moister northern fringe of the Tien Shan. Our data show that deposits from large landslides can provide valuable spatio-temporal constraints for glacial advances in landscapes where moraines and glacial deposits have low preservation potential.
Moraines southwest of Lake Yashilkul, Pamir, Tajikistan, were dated using 10Be exposure ages of boulder surfaces. We found evidence for (1) an extensive glaciation ∼60,000 yr ago; (2) a less extensive glacial advance, which deposited a characteristic hummocky moraine lobe with exposure ages ranging from ∼11,000 to 47,000 yr, probably deposited at or before 47,000 yr ago; and (3) lateral moraines with exposure ages of ∼40,000 yr, 27,000 yr and 19,000 yr, respectively. Increasing aridity in the Pamir is most likely responsible for the progressively limited extent of the glaciers during the Late Pleistocene.
Analysis of in situ-produced 10Be and 26Al demonstrate that some Australian inselbergs (granitic domes) are among the most stable geomorphic surfaces in the world, eroding at rates as low as 0.6 m/myr. Twenty isotopic analyses of ten samples suggest that the bare bedrock tops of these isolated granitic domes have been exposed to cosmic radiation for at least 0.5 myr and are eroding at a mean model rate less than 0.7 ± 0.1 m/myr (n = 6). Isotopic analyses of samples collected from the top of Mt. Wudinna, Little Wudinna, and Yarwondutta Rock are most consistent with continuous exposure during erosion. On the other hand, samples collected from the flanks of some domes and the tops of other domes have isotopic abundances suggestive of complex exposure histories including burial and reexposure. These unique isotopic data provide the first quantitative information for evaluating longstanding, but previously untested, hypotheses regarding the antiquity and development of these enigmatic landforms and indicate that some Eyre Peninsula inselbergs are probably relict features of pre-Pleistocene landscapes.
A comparison is made of the Holocene records obtained from water isotope measurements along 11 ice cores from coastal and central sites in east Antarctica (Vostok, Dome B, Plateau Remote, Komsomolskaia, Dome C, Taylor Dome, Dominion Range, D47, KM105, and Law Dome) and west Antarctica (Byrd), with temporal resolution from 20 to 50 yr. The long-term trends possibly reflect local ice sheet elevation fluctuations superimposed on common climatic fluctuations. All the records confirm the widespread Antarctic early Holocene optimum between 11,500 and 9000 yr; in the Ross Sea sector, a secondary optimum is identified between 7000 and 5000 yr, whereas all eastern Antarctic sites show a late optimum between 6000 and 3000 yr. Superimposed on the long time trend, all the records exhibit 9 aperiodic millennial-scale oscillations. Climatic optima show a reduced pacing between warm events (typically 800 yr), whereas cooler periods are associated with less-frequent warm events (pacing >1200 yr).
The volume and surface area of glacial Lake Agassiz varied considerably during its 4000-year history. Computer models for seven stages of Lake Agassiz were used to quantify these variations over the lake's early history, between about 11,000 and 9300 14C yr B.P. (ca. 13,000 to 10,300 cal yr B.P.). Just after formation of the Herman strandlines (ca. 11,000 14C yr B.P.), the volume of Lake Agassiz appears to have decreased by >85% as a consequence of the abrupt rerouting of overflow to its eastern outlet from its southward routing into the Mississippi River basin. This drainage released about 9500 km3 of water into the North Atlantic Ocean via the Great Lakes and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Following closure of this eastern routing of overflow, the lake reached its maximum size at about 9400 14C yr B.P. with an area of >260,000 km2 and a volume of >22,700 km3. A second major reduction in volume occurred shortly after that, when its volume decreased >10% following the opening of the Kaiashk outlet to the east into the Great Lakes, and 2500–7000 km3 of water was released into the North Atlantic Ocean. These discharges may have affected ocean circulation and North Atlantic Deep Water production.
The time series of volcanically produced sulfate from the GISP2 ice core is used to develop a continuous record of explosive volcanism over the past 110,000 yr. We identified ∼850 volcanic signals (700 of these from 110,000 to 9000 yr ago) with sulfate concentrations greater than that associated with historical eruptions from either equatorial or mid-latitude regions that are known to have perturbed global or Northern Hemisphere climate, respectively. This number is a minimum because decreasing sampling resolution with depth, source volcano location, variable circulation patterns at the time of the eruption, and post-depositional modification of the signal can result in an incomplete record. The largest and most abundant volcanic signals over the past 110,000 yr, even after accounting for lower sampling resolution in the earlier part of the record, occur between 17,000 and 6000 yr ago, during and following the last deglaciation. A second period of enhanced volcanism occurs 35,000–22,000 yr ago, leading up to and during the last glacial maximum. These findings further support a possible climate-forcing component in volcanism. Increased volcanism often occurs during stadial/interstadial transitions within the last glaciation, but this is not consistent over the entire cycle. Ages for some of the largest known eruptions 100,000–9000 yr ago closely correspond to individual sulfate peaks or groups of peaks in our record.
Annual (October through September) precipitation from 1100 A.D. to modern times is reconstructed for Morocco, using Cedrus atlantica (Endl.) Carrière tree-ring chronologies. Both multiple regression on principal components and the bootstrap method are use to calibrate tree-ring width with precipitation; precipitation variation is reconstructed for three climatically distinct areas: the humid, subhumid, and arid regions of Morocco. A series of successive wet and dry periods is identified for the past 1000 years; the maximum length of the 13 dry periods (during which precipitation was at least 1σ below normal) is 6 years. Twenty-one years are identified during which precipitation fell more than 2σ below normal. We are unable to identify significant correspondence in climatic variation in Morocco, Europe, and the Sahel during this time period.
A physically plausible three-dimensional numerical ice flow model is used to examine the rate at which the Laurentide Ice Sheet could spread and thicken using as input likely values for the rate of fall of snowline and the amount of net mass balance over the growing ice sheet. This provides then both a test of the hypothesis of “instantaneous glacierization” and of the suggested rapid fall of world sea level to between −20 and −70 m below present at 115,000 BP. Two experiments are described: The first terminated after 10,050 years of model run with ice sheets centered over Labrador-Ungava and Baffin Island with a total volume of 3.0 × 106 km3 of ice, whereas the second was completed after 10,000 years and resulted in a significantly larger ice sheet (still with two main centers) with a volume of 7.78 × 106 km3 of ice. This latter figure is equivalent to the mass required to lower world sea level by 19.4 m. Our results indicate that large ice sheets can develop in about 10,000 years under optimum conditions.
Cores and cross sections from 133 limber pine (Pinus flexilis James) and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirbel) Franco) at four sites were used to estimate annual (July to June) precipitation in the Yellowstone National Park region for the period from AD 1173 to 1998. Examination of the long-term record shows that the early 20th century was markedly wet compared to the previous 700 yr. Extreme wet and dry years within the instrumental period fall within the range of past variability, and the magnitude of the worst-case droughts of the 20th century (AD 1930s and 1950s) was likely equaled or exceeded on numerous occasions before AD 1900. Spectral analysis showed significant decadal to multidecadal precipitation variability. At times this lower frequency variability produces strong regime-like behavior in regional precipitation, with the potential for rapid, high-amplitude switching between predominately wet and predominately dry conditions. Over multiple time scales, strong Yellowstone region precipitation anomalies were almost always associated with spatially extensive events spanning various combinations of the central and southern U.S. Rockies, the northern U.S.–Southern Canadian Rockies and the Pacific Northwest.
A 52-m core from Qidong at the tip of the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) delta provides a history of sea-level change, deltaic development, and vegetational and climatic changes during the last 12,000 yr. About 12,000 yr ago, when sea level was about 60 m below the present level, the coring site was situated in the innermost part of the exposed continental shelf. The late-Pleistocene vegetation on the uplands of the Lower Yangtze River valley was a mixed forest of deciduous and broadleaved evergreen trees in which Betula, Ulmus, Tsuga, and Cupressaceae were slightly more abundant than at present. Abies and Picea were probably present as relict populations on mountains bordering the region. Rapidly rising sea level converted the Qidong area to a coastal or estuarine environment between 11,000 and 10,800 yr B.P., leading to widespread development of wetlands dominated by Gramineae and Cyperaceae. During the next 2500 yr coastal erosion due to marine transgression obliterated the sedimentary record. Deltaic sedimentation predominated from 8300 to 3800 yr B.P., as the Yangtze River delta prograded by successively building a series of estuarine sand bars. During the mid-Holocene, the climate was slightly warmer and more humid than at present, allowing the subtropical broadleaved evergreen trees to increase their populations. Pinus and Quercus became more abundant after 3800 yr B.P. in response to climatic cooling. The present deltaic plain in Qidong formed less than 200 yr ago.
Pollen and charcoal analysis of radiocarbon-dated sediment cores from Duck Pond in the Cape Cod National Seashore provide a continuous 12,000-yr vegetation and climate history of outer Cape Cod. A Picea-Hudsonia parkland and then a Picea-Pinus banksiana-Alnus crispa boreal forest association grew near the site between 12,000 and 10,000 yr B.P. This vegetation was replaced by a northern conifer forest of Pinus strobus-P. banksiana, and, subsequently, by a more mesophytic forest (Pinus strobus, Tsuga, Quercus, Fagus, Acer, Ulmus, Fraxinus, Ostrya) as the climate became warmer and wetter by 9500 yr B.P. By 9000 yr B.P. a Pinus rigida-Quercus association dominated the landscape. High charcoal frequencies from this and subsequent levels suggest that the pine barrens association developed during a warmer and drier climate that lasted from 9000 to about 5000 yr B.P. Increased percentages of Pinus strobus pollen indicate a return to moister and cooler conditions by about 3500 yr B.P. A doubled sedimentation rate, increased charcoal, and increased herb pollen suggest land disturbance near the pond before European settlement. These results suggest a rapid warming in the northeast in the early Holocene and support a hypothesis of a rapid sea level rise at that time. Comparison of the pollen results from Duck Pond with those from Rogers Lake, Connecticut, illustrates the importance of edaphic factors in determining the disturbance frequency and vegetation history of an area.
The chemistry of the carbonate-free clay-size fraction of Owens Lake sediments supports the use of total organic carbon and magnetic susceptibility as indicators of stadial–interstadial oscillations. Owens Lake records of total organic carbon, magnetic susceptibility, and chemical composition of the carbonate-free, clay-size fraction indicate that Tioga glaciation began ∼24,500 and ended by ∼13,60014C yr B.P. Many of the components of glacial rock flour (e.g., TiO2, MnO, BaO) found in Owens Lake sediments achieved maximum values during the Tioga glaciation when valley glaciers reached their greatest extent. Total organic carbon and SiO2(amorphous) concentrations reached minimum values during Tioga glaciation, resulting from decreases in productivity that accompanied the introduction of rock flour into the surface waters of Owens Lake. At least 20 stadial–interstadial oscillations occurred in the Sierra Nevada between 52,600 and 14,00014C yr B.P. Total organic carbon data from a Pyramid Lake sediment core also indicate oscillations in glacier activity between >39,500 and ∼13,60014C yr B.P. Alpine glacier oscillations occurred on a frequency of ≤1900 yr in both basins, suggesting that millennial-scale oscillations occurred in California and Nevada during most of the past 52,600 yr.
Glaciated alpine landscapes are sensitive to changes in climate. Shifts in temperature and precipitation can cause significant changes to glacier size and terminus position, the production and delivery of organic mass, and in the hydrologic energy related to the transport of water and sediment through proglacial environments. A sediment core representing a 12,900-yr record collected from Swiftcurrent Lake, located on the eastern side of Glacier National Park, Montana, was analyzed to assess variability in Holocene and latest Pleistocene environment. The spectral signature of total organic carbon content (%TOC) since ~ 7.6 ka matches that of solar forcing over 70–500 yr timescales. Periodic inputs of dolomite to the lake reflect an increased footprint of Grinnell Glacier, and occur during periods when sediment sinks are reduced, glacial erosion is increased, and hydrologic energy is increased. Grain size, carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratios, and %TOC broadly define the termination of the Younger Dryas chronozone at Swiftcurrent Lake, as well as major Holocene climate transitions. Variability in core parameters is linked to other records of temperature and aridity in the northern Rocky Mountains over the late Pleistocene and Holocene.
In this study, we present grain-size distributions of the terrigenous fraction of two deep-sea sediment cores from the SE Atlantic (offshore Namibia) and from the SE Pacific (offshore northern Chile), which we ‘unmix’ into subpopulations and which are interpreted as coarse eolian dust, fine eolian dust, and fluvial mud. The downcore ratios of the proportions of eolian dust and fluvial mud subsequently represent paleocontinental aridity records of southwestern Africa and northern Chile for the last 120,000 yr. The two records show a relatively wet Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) compared to a relatively dry Holocene, but different orbital variability on longer time scales. Generally, the northern Chilean aridity record shows higher-frequency changes, which are closely related to precessional variation in solar insolation, compared to the southwestern African aridity record, which shows a remarkable resemblance to the global ice-volume record. We relate the changes in continental aridity in southwestern Africa and northern Chile to changes in the latitudinal position of the moisture-bearing Southern Westerlies, potentially driven by the sea-ice extent around Antarctica and overprinted by tropical forcing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
A time-series of tree-ringwidth indices for alpine timberline foxtail pine (Pinus balfouriana) from the Sierra Nevada of California shows a growth response to summer, late fall, and early winter temperatures that is the inverse of that resulting in the expansion of alpine glaciers. These are correlated with lichen-dated moraines and avalanche deposits that accumulated during subsequent decades. Minima in the ringwidth record, reflecting marked temperature declines occurred at 810, 1470, 1610, 1700 and 1810. Cold periods of lesser extent are also indicated between 1190 to 1400 and suggest that the initial pulses of the Sierran Matthes advances may have begun as early as 1190, or 150 yr earlier than previously dated. The Matthes advances were preceded by a period of pronounced warmth from 900 to 1190 during which timberline rose 10 m to its present elevation. A warm period is also indicated between 1500 and 1580. Recent work extending the tree-ring chronology to 3031 yr B.P. and radiocarbon dating of weathered samples to 6300 yr B.P. suggests that the chronology may ultimately be applicable to the dating of earlier Sierran glacier advances.
We present here the first high-resolution pollen record of vegetation response to interactions of hurricane and fire disturbances over the past 1200 yr from a small lake in Alabama on the Gulf of Mexico coast. The paleotempestological record inferred from the overwash sand layers suggests that the Alabama coast was directly struck by Saffir–Simpson category 4 or 5 hurricanes twice during the last 1200 yr, around 1170 and 860 cal yr BP, suggesting an annual landfall probability of 0.17% for these intense hurricanes. The charcoal data suggest that intense fires occurred after each of these hurricanes. The pollen data suggest that populations of halophytic plants (Chenopodiaceae) and heliophytic shrubs (Myrica) expanded after the hurricane strikes, probably due to saltwater intrusion into the marshes and soil salinization caused by overwash processes. Populations of pines (Pinus sp.) decreased significantly after each intense hurricane and the ensuing intense fire, suggesting that repeated hurricane–fire interactions resulted in high tree mortality and probably impeded recruitment and recovery. Our data support the hypothesis that the likelihood and intensity of fire increased significantly after a major hurricane, producing responses by vegetation that are more complex and unpredictable than if the disturbance agents were acting singly and independently.
This paper presents a quantitative reconstruction of the European late Pleistocene paleoclimate based on 72 rodent assemblages of five sequences from France, Germany and Bulgaria, covering the last interglacial–glacial cycle. They show a pattern of severe changes in temperature, with reduced precipitation during the coldest periods. A tentative correlation between the isotopic and palynological records and the paleotemperature changes is shown. These changes are consistent with variations in atmospheric circulation patterns in response to an expanding–retracting Fennoscandian ice-sheet. They can be attributed to the enhancement–weakening of the Scandinavian-Polar anticyclone and its associated dry winds, the south–north shifting of the North Atlantic Polar Front, and the varying supply of moist air from the Atlantic. Qualitative paleoenvironmental analysis shows broadleaved-deciduous forests in France and Bulgaria during most of the studied period. Taiga and tundra appeared in eastern France during the lower Würm. The German sequence indicates the presence of coniferous forests. These results are broadly consistent with other paleobiological records (mammalian, avian and insect faunas, isotopic record in dental tissue, palynology). The main discrepancies with the paleoclimate inferred from the palynological record are found during the coldest periods and are probably due to the interaction between vegetation, climate, and atmospheric CO2 levels.
Season of rainfall can be a major influence on the relative proportions of C3 and C4 grasses in a landscape, since their relative distribution is essentially constrained by temperatures during the growing season; cool growing seasons favor C3 grasses, whereas warm ones favor C4 grasses. 13C/12C ratios in tooth enamel carbonate of grazers from the site of Equus Cave, northern Cape Province, South Africa, were used to determine vegetation and rainfall seasonality shifts during the late Quaternary. The results show shifts in the relative proportion of C3 and C4 grasses during the latter stages of the Pleistocene, and domination by C4 grasses in the Holocene. The data show that the northwestern Cape did not fall within a winter rainfall zone during this period as has been postulated in recent climate models. Instead, a more complex situation is suggested in which at least two periods of enhanced winter rainfall occurred within a predominantly summer rainfall regime.
Late-glacial and Holocene ratios of atmospheric CO2 vary in magnitude from a few per mil for annual/decadal pertubations to more than 10% for events lasting millennia. A data set illuminating 10- to 104-yr variability refines our understanding of oceanic (climatic) versus geomagnetic or solar forcing of atmospheric ratios. Most of the variance in the Holocene atmospheric record can be attributed to the geomagnetic (millennia time scale) and solar (century time scale) influence on the flux of primary cosmic rays entering the atmosphere. Attributing the observed atmospheric changes to climate alone leads to ocean circulation and/or global wind speed changes incompatible with proxy records. Climate-(ocean-)related 14C redistribution between carbon reservoirs, while evidently playing a minor role during the Holocene, may have perturbed atmospheric ratios measurably during the late-glacial Younger Dryas event. First-order corrections to the radiocarbon time scale (12,000–30,000 14C yr B.P.) are calculated from adjusted lake-sediment and tree-ring records and from geomagnetically defined model 14C histories. Paleosunspot numbers (100–9700 cal yr B.P.) are derived from the relationship of model 14C production rates to sunspot observations. The spectral interpretation of the atmospheric record favors higher than average solar activity levels for the next century. Minimal evidence was found for a sun-weather relationship.
During the Quaternary glacial episodes, when sea level was considerably lower, Asia and North America were linked by large extensions of circumarctic land (Beringia), which remained unglaciated. This land mass served not only as a biogeographical bridge for plants, animals, and humans, but also supported a biome very different from present tundra or boreal coniferous forests, which was dominated by steppes and a rich mammalian megafauna. Carbon stable isotope ratios of Beringian late Pleistocene mummified remains of bison, equids, mammoth, caribou, musk-ox, moose, woolly rhino, and other undetermined species, found preserved in permafrost, indicate that these megaherbivores fed exclusively on C3 plants, and that C4 grasses were not differentially ingested by bison, as previously suggested. Paleoclimatic constraints probably prevented the formation of a warm-season (C4) guild during the later part of the growing season in the steppes of Beringia during the last glaciation.
Stable carbon isotope chronologies using tree ring wood cellulose have proved useful for developing hypotheses on climate and environment change. However, within both the Southern Hemisphere and Africa there has been very little tree-ring-based isotope research. Here we report the first high-resolution (annual) 13C/12C chronology for both Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. The 77-yr stable carbon isotope chronology was developed from six Widdringtonia cedarbergensis trees from a site in the Cedarberg Mountains, Western Cape Province, South Africa. The results indicate that 13C/12C ratios are not different from 1900 to 1949. After 1949, however, values become significantly more negative to 1977. The isotopic record from the pooled trees at the Die Bos site does not correlate with rainfall. This correlation is not significant even when the Widdringtonia stable carbon isotope record is de-trended for the anthropogenic CO2 contribution. The Widdringtonia record does, however, correlate significantly with atmospheric 13C/12C CO2 values derived from ice core data, tree ring 13C/12C chronologies from the Northern Hemisphere, and recent Southern Hemisphere records.
This study presents the Late-Holocene evolution of a northern Southampton Island (Nunavut, Canada) lake, using fossil chironomids supported by sedimentological evidences (XRF, grain size and CNS). All proxies revealed a relatively stable environment during the last millennium with short-lived events driving changes in the entire lake ecosystem. The chironomid-based paleotemperatures revealed variations of significant amplitude coincident with changes in the sediment density and chemical composition of the core. Higher temperature intervals were generally correlated to lower sediment density with higher chironomid concentration and diversity. Higher temperatures were recorded from cal yr AD 1160 to AD 1360, which may correspond to the Medieval Warm Period. Between cal yr AD 1360 and AD 1700, lower temperatures were probably related to a Little Ice Age event. This study presents new information on the timing of known climatic events which will refine our knowledge of the paleoclimate and climatic models of the Foxe Basin region. It also provides a new framework for the evolution of such freshwater ecosystems under the “Anthropocene” and underlines the importance of including sedimentological proxies when interpreting chironomid remains as this combined approach provides an extended overview of the past hydrological and geochemical changes and their impacts on lake biota.
Previous studies have suggested that Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 13, recognized as atypical in many paleoclimate records, is marked by the development of anomalously strong summer monsoons in the northern tropical areas. To test this hypothesis, we performed a multi-proxy study on three marine records from the tropical Indian Ocean in order to reconstruct and analyse changes in the summer Indian monsoon winds and precipitations during MIS 13. Our data confirm the existence of a low-salinity event during MIS 13 in the equatorial Indian Ocean but we argue that this event should not be considered as “atypical”. Taking only into account a smaller precession does not make it possible to explain such precipitation episode. However, when considering also the larger obliquity in a more complete orbitally driven monsoon “model,” one can successfully explain this event. In addition, our data suggest that intense summer monsoon winds, although not atypical in strength, prevailed during MIS 13 in the western Arabian Sea. These strong monsoon winds, transporting important moisture, together with the effect of insolation and Eurasian ice sheet, are likely one of the factors responsible for the intense monsoon precipitation signal recorded in China loess, as suggested by model simulations.
Analysis of stable carbon isotope ratios () of organic matter in land snail shells is used to infer middle Holocene rainfall amounts in the Negev Desert by reconstructing the distribution of C4 plants in the family Chenopodiaceae. The organics are derived from the diet of the snails, which consists of plant material, and are enriched in 13C where C4 plants are present. A survey of modern plant communities indicates that in areas receiving ≥300 mm mean annual rainfall, nearly all plant communities consist of C3 species only (no C4 chenopodes), whereas in areas under ≤230 mm rainfall, most plant communities contain one or more C4 chenopode species. In between is a transition zone consisting of a mosaic of both pure C3 and mixed C3 + C4 plant communities. Isotopic results for fossil land snails indicate a consistent geographic pattern throughout the middle Holocene, from ca. 6500 to 3000 yr B.P., with the transition zone located ca. 20 km south of its present position. This implies a near doubling of rainfall within this region as compared to present.
The 13C/12C ratios of Upper Holocene benthic foraminiferal tests (genera Cibicides and Uvigerina) of deep sea cores from the various world ocean basins have been compared with those of the modern total carbon dioxide (TCO2) measured during the GEOSECS program. The δ13C difference between benthic foraminifera and TCO2 is 0.07 ± 0.04‰ for Cibicides and −0.83 ± 0.07‰ for Uvigerina at the 95% confidence level. δ13C analyses of the benthic foraminifera that lived during the last interglaciation (isotopic substage 5e, about 120,000 yr ago) show that the bulk of the TCO2 in the world ocean had a δ13C value 0.15 ± 0.12‰ lower than the modern one at the 95% confidence level, reflecting a depletion, compared to the present value, of the global organic carbon reservoir. Regional differences in δ13C between the various oceanic basins are explained by a pattern of deep water circulation different from the modern one: the Antarctic Bottom Water production was higher than today during the last interglaciation, but the eastward transport in the Circumpolar Deep Water was lower.
Molecular stratigraphic analyses using gas chromatograph-mass spectrometry have been performed in the upper section (S0, L1, S1) of the Yuanbo loess–paleosol sequences in northwest China, with a record extending from the last interglaciation through the present interglaciation. The CPI (Carbon Preference Index) values of both n-alkanols and n-alkan-2-ones display variations between loess deposits and paleosols, showing a correlation with the magnetic susceptibility record, an indicator of the East Asian summer monsoon. The observed variations in the indexes in relation to changes in lithology/paleoclimate are proposed to result from microbial degradation of higher plant lipids in the paleosols. The CPI values of n-alkanes, n-alkanols, and n-alkan-2-ones are negatively correlated with δ13C of bulk organic matter. The correlations suggest that the observed glacial–interglacial variations of δ13C data in the loess stratigraphy reflect the relative importance of the contribution of paleovegetation compared with microorganisms (including both the degradation and the addition of organic matter) and allochthonous loess/soil parent materials. It is thus necessary to evaluate the contributions of the latter two before the paleovegetation can be reconstructed based on the δ13C analysis of bulk organic matter in some loess–paleosol sequences of the Chinese Loess Plateau.
A pollen record from Lago Condorito (41°45′S, 73°07′W) shows that North Patagonian Rain Forest taxa predominated between about 13,000 and 12,200 14C yr B.P. in the lowlands of southern Chile, near the city of Puerto Montt. This was followed by the expansion and persistence of the conifer Podocarpus nubigena between 12,200 and 9900 14C yr B.P. Trees favored by disturbance expanded between 11,200 and 9900 14C yr B.P., concurrent with sharp and sustained increases of microscopic charcoal particles. Taxa of low-elevation rain forests expanded and became more diverse in pulses centered at 9900 and 9000 14C yr B.P., following the disappearance of P. nubigena. These data suggest conditions approaching modern climate between about 13,000 and 12,200 14C yr B.P. The climate cooled between 12,200 and 9900 14C yr B.P., then quickly warmed to interglacial conditions. Stand-replacing fires occurred near Lago Condorito between 11,200 and 9900 14C yr B.P., under cool-temperate, humid conditions. The proximity and reported antiquity of the Monte Verde archeological site raise the possibility that these fires were set by human activities.
A 13,000-year history of late-Quaternary vegetational and climatic change has been derived from lacustrine sediments from Pleasant Island in the Glacier Bay region of southeastern Alaska. Early arrival of lodgepole pine and mountain hemlock, indicated by the presence of pollen and conifer stomata, suggests expansion from refugia in the Alexander Archipelago. A short-term climatic reversal, possibly correlated with the European Younger Dryas, is inferred from the expansion of tundra elements and deposition of inorganic sediments between 10,600 and 990014C yr B.P. Two peat cores from the lake catchment verify Holocene vegetation changes and aid in the separation of biogenic from climatic forces affecting vegetation history. Differences in pollen representation among the three cores illustrate the variation among pollen-collecting substrates, as well as the spatial heterogeneity of peatland development and its dependence on local hydrology. Initial peat accumulation and soil paludification, occasioned by increases in temperature and precipitation in the early Holocene, allowed western and mountain hemlock to replace sitka spruce 8500–8000 yr B. P. Open muskeg became widespread about 7000 yr B. P. and allowed lodgepole pine to reinvade the region after a 2000-yr absence. The extensive replacement of fen elements by bog taxa at 3400 yr B. P. suggests increased paludification due to changing hydrologic conditions; its correlation with the upland expansion ofTsuga heterophyllasuggests the onset of a cooler/wetter Neoglacial climate in southeastern Alaska.
The Chinese loess-paleosol sequence constitutes an important record of variations in Asian monsoon climate over the past 2.4 myr. Magnetic susceptibility of loess and paleosols has been used as a proxy for summer monsoon intensity, while median grain size has been regarded as a measure of the strength of winter monsoon winds that were responsible for most of the dust transport. However, median grain size is only an approximate index of winter monsoon strength because both paleosols and loess have been modified, to various degrees, by weathering processes that have produced pedogenic clay. The quartz component of loess and paleosols is largely unaffected by weathering processes and therefore constitutes a more reliable proxy index of monsoon wind strength. Median grain size (Qmd) and maximum grain size (Qmax) values of monomineralic quartz isolated from the loess-paleosol section at Luochuan in the central Loess Plateau are characterized by two main intervals during the last ca. 130,000 yr when these parameters were significantly greater than 9 and 85 μm, respectively, and three main intervals when they were lower. The data imply that the winter monsoon weakened during the intervals with low Qmd and Qmax values, which coincide with marine oxygen isotope stages 5, 3, and 1, and was strongest ca. 67,000 and 20,000 yr ago during isotope stages 4 and 2. However, both quartz grainsize records display second-order high-frequency, high-amplitude variations, which are lacking in the magnetic susceptibility record, that imply rapid and significant changes in atmospheric conditions that affect dust transport and deposition.
Deep-sea sediment cores recovered from the Northeast Atlantic Ocean were examined in order to elucidate the influence of the Earth's orbital parameters on major ice rafting. Analyses of coarse-grained ice-rafted debris and planktonic foraminifers revealed a strong reaction to the precession signal. Since 130,000 yr B.P., dropstone layers have been deposited each half period of a precessional cycle (11,000 ± 1000 yr). Ice rafting occurs during times of winter minimum/summer maximum insolation and summer minimum/winter maximum insolation. In the first case, high summer insolation forces meltwater discharge from the ice sheets into the polar seas which subsequently enhances formation of sea ice during the winter. In the second case, growth of continental ice enhances iceberg production which also leads to a salinity reduction of surface seawater. Both situations result in a southward penetration of polar water. Thus, the marine record of dropstones documents ice rafting not only during Weichselian stades but also during cold events within interstades. The regularity of ice rafting yields a useful framework to calibrate and elucidate climatic changes, not only in the region of the North Atlantic Ocean but also in remote areas such as the Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic.
The magnetic susceptibility of loess and paleosols in central China represents a proxy climate index closely related to past changes of precipitation and vegetation, and thus to summer monsoon intensity. Time series of magnetic susceptibility constructed for three loess-paleosol sequences in the southern part of the Chinese Loess Plateau document the history of summer monsoon variation during the last 130,000 yr. They correlate closely with the oxygen isotope record of stages 1 to 5 in deep-sea sediments. Soils were forming during intervals of strong summer monsoon, whereas loess units were deposited at times of reduced monsoon intensity. The Chinese loess-paleosol sequence can thus be viewed as a proxy record of Asian monsoon variability extending over the last 2.5 myr.
Rb, Sr, and magnetic susceptibility have been measured in the last interglacial–glacial loess profiles at Luochuan and Huanxian, central China. A high degree of similarity between the parameters in both profiles suggests that variations of Rb/Sr ratios in the sequence can be regarded as an indicator of East Asian summer monsoon strength. Matching the Rb/Sr record with the SPECMAP δ18O curve suggests that the Rb/Sr ratio responds sensitively to changes of the East Asian monsoon induced by global ice-volume variation.
The desert–loess transitional zone in north-central China has long been thought sensitive to Quaternary climatic change. However, reconstruction of Quaternary climates in this area has been hindered by incompleteness of geological sections. Here we report the analytical results of two recently found sand–loess–soil sections. Both sections have thick eolian deposits from the last interglacial–glacial cycle and can be correlated with one another. Field observations, thermoluminescence dating, and other laboratory analyses show that the last interglacial period produced three paleosols and two intercalated loess layers. Loess from the last glacial period is interbedded with three sand horizons that represent desert extension. The expansion and contraction of desert in northern China may have been forced by the east Asia monsoon.
A sensitivity-corrected Multiple Aliquot Regenerative-dose protocol has been developed for fine-grained quartz OSL dating of Chinese loess. Its reliability has been assessed on the basis of the methodology and by dating reference samples of known age close to the transition from the last interglacial paleosol (S1) to the last glacial loess (L1), which corresponds to the Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 5/4 transition. On the basis of the fine-grained quartz OSL-age estimates for 33 loess samples from the upper part of the Luochuan profile, a detailed chronostratigraphy of continuous dust accumulation in the past 130 ka has been proposed. Changes in the accumulation rate occurred during the last glacial period (MIS 4 to MIS 2); unexpectedly, high accumulation rates were found in the weakly developed L1–2(S) paleosol of the last interstadial (MIS 3), rather than in the classic L1–1 and L1–3 loess of the cold–dry glacial condition (MIS 2 and 4). The OSL ages show some disagreement with the previous numerical chronology for the loess–paleosol sequence based on correlation of variations in grain size with sedimentation rate; the latter method resulted in an almost constant accumulation rate from 72 to 12 ka.
The distribution of 210Pb, 137Cs, and Ambrosia (ragweed) pollen in two sediment cores from Lake Ontario and in three cores from Lake Erie provides independent estimates of sediment accumulation rates. Geochronology with 210Pb is based on radioactive decay of the isotope following burial in sediments. The method can reveal with precision changes in sedimentation occurring over the past 100 yr or so. Geochronologies with 137Cs and Ambrosia are based on the occurrence of a horizon corresponding, respectively, to the onset of nuclear testing 25 yr ago and to regional forest clearance in the middle 1800s. These methods provide estimates of long-term average sediment accumulation rates. In all but one core, the distributions of 137Cs and 210Pb indicate no physical mixing of near-surface sediments. In two cores, including one from central Lake Erie collected by diver, all three estimates of sedimentation rates are in excellent agreement. In two other cores, rates based on 210Pb are significantly higher than those inferred from Ambrosia pollen profiles. Lower average rates appear to result from occasional massive losses of sediments. Such events, apparent in the distribution of 210Pb but not in pollen records, correlate with the occurrence of major storm surges on the lakes during this century. In one core from western Lake Erie, exponential distributions of both 210Pb and Ambrosia appear to be artifacts which may result from extensive biological or physical reworking of sediments in shallow water (11 m). Previous indications of increased sedimentation in Lake Erie since about 1935 based on Castanea (chestnut) pollen data are not substantiated.
Paleoprecipitation reconstructions on the basis of pollen are well known, but they do not provide high temporal resolution for glacial periods. High-resolution paleoprecipitation reconstructions for the last glaciation based on the isotopic record organic matter in loess from Nussloch (Rhine Valley, Germany) are consistent with paleoprecipitation inferred from peat in the same area using an independant method. Thus, delta C-13 of loess organic matter can be used as a proxy for paleoprecipitation. (C) 2001 University of Washington.
An isotopic investigation of upper Pleistocene mammal bones and teeth from Scladina cave (Sclayn, Belgium) demonstrated the very good quality of collagen preservation. A preliminary screening of the samples used the amount of nitrogen in whole bone and dentine in order to estimate the preserved amount of collagen before starting the extraction process. The isotopic abundances of fossil specimens from still-extant species are consistent with their trophic position. Moreover, the15N isotopic abundance is higher in dentine than in bone in bears and hyenas, a phenomenon already observed in modern specimens. These results demonstrate that the isotopic compositions of samples from Scladina cave can be interpreted in ecological terms. Mammoths exhibit a high15N isotopic abundance relative to other herbivores, as was the case in Siberian and Alaskan samples. These results suggest distinctive dietary adaptations in herbivores living in the mammoth steppe. Cave bears are clearly isotopically different from coeval brown bears, suggesting an ecological separation between species, with a pure vegetarian diet for cave bear and an omnivorous diet for brown bear.