Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Holocene environmental change resets lichen surface dates on Recess Peak glacial deposits in the Sierra Nevada, California

  • Louis A. Scuderi and Peter J. Fawcett

Abstract

Development of an accurate chronology for glacial deposits in the Sierra Nevada has long been problematic given the lack of suitable organic material for radiocarbon dating. Lichenometry initially appeared promising as ages showed an increase from cirque headwalls to down-canyon moraines. However, while Recess Peak lichen age estimates range from 2 to 3 ka, recent work shows these deposits to be at least 10 ka older. Here, we present evidence for a late Holocene reset of Recess Peak lichen ages by significant post-depositional climate change. Following late-Pleistocene deposition of Recess Peak moraines, warming through the mid-Holocene allowed forests to advance into shallow basins eliminating local inverted tree lines. This produced a partial canopy where shading killed the original post-Pleistocene crustose lichen colonies. Late-Holocene cooling resulted in forest retreat from these basins as alpine tree line fell. Lichens then recolonized the re-exposed Recess Peak deposits. We conclude that while Recess Peak lichen ages are accurate to within the dating uncertainty of the technique, existing lichen ages actually date the timing of post-mid-Holocene cooling and recolonization, and not the original emplacement of these deposits. Thus, applications of Lichenometry should consider post-depositional environmental change when interpreting the meaning of these dates.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Fax: 505 2778843. E-mail address: tree@unm.edu (L.A. Scuderi).

References

Hide All
Armstrong, R.A., (2005). Radial growth of Rhizocarpon section Rhizocarpon lichen thalli over six years at Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascade Range, Washington State. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 37, 411415.
Armstrong, R., Bradwell, T., (2010). Growth of crustose lichens: a review. Geografiska Annaler 92, 317.
Ball, M.C., Canny, M.J., Huang, C.X., Egerton, J.J.G., Wolfe, J., (2006). Freeze/thaw-induced embolism depends on nadir temperature: the heterogeneous hydration hypothesis. Plant, Cell & Environment 20, 729745.
Beget, J.E., (1994). Tephrochronology, lichenometry, and radiocarbon dating at Gulkana Glacier, central Alaska Range, USA. The Holocene 4, 307313.
Benedict, J.B., (1993). A 2000, year lichen-snowkill chronology for the Colorado Front Range, USA. The Holocene 3, 2733.
Benedict, J.B., (2009). A review of lichenometric dating and its application to archaeology. American Antiquity 74, 143172.
Bierman, P., Gillespie, A., (1991). Range fires: a significant factor in exposure-age determination and geomorphic surface evolution. Geology 19, 641644.
Birkeland, P.W., (1973). Use of relative age-dating methods in a stratigraphic study of rock glacier deposits, Mt. Sopris, Colorado. Arctic and Alpine Research 5, 401416.
Birman, J.H., (1964). Glacial geology across the crest of the Sierra Nevada, California. Geological Society of America Special Paper 75, .
Blennow, K., Lang, A.R.G., Dunne, P., Ball, M.C., (1998). Cold induced photoinhibition and growth of seedling snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) under differing temperature and radiation regimes in fragmented forests. Plant, Cell & Environment 21, 407416.
Bowerman, N.D., Clark, D.H., (2004). Onset and multiple fluctuations of holocene glaciation in the Sierra Nevada, California. American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting. (abstract #PP21A-1370).
Bowerman, N.D., Clark, D.H., (2011). Holocene glaciation of the central Sierra Nevada, California. Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 10671085.
Bradwell, T., (2001). Glacier Fluctuations, Lichenometry and Climatic Change in Iceland. (PhD. Thesis) University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, U.K..(365 pp.).
Bradwell, T., (2009). Lichenometric dating: a commentary, in the light of some recent statistical studies. Geografiska Annaler 91, 6169.
Burbank, D.W., (1991). Late Quaternary snowline reconstructions for the southern and central Sierra Nevada and a reassessment of the “Recess Peak Glaciation”. Quaternary Research 36, 294306.
Burke, R.M., Birkeland, P.W., (1983). Holocene glaciation in the mountain ranges of the western United States. Wright jr., H.E., Late Quaternary Environments of the United States. The Holocene vol. 2, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.311.
CDEC, (2011). The California Data Exchange Center. http://cdec.water.ca.gov/.
Cerling, T.E., Craig, H., (1994). Geomorphology and in-situ cosmogenic isotopes. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science 22, 273317.
Clark, D.H., Gillespie, A.R., (1997). Timing and significance of late-glacial and Holocene cirque glaciation in the Sierra Nevada, California. Quaternary International 38, 39 2138.
Coop, J.D., Givnish, T.J., (2007). Gradient analysis of reversed treelines and grasslands of the Valles Caldera, New Mexico. Journal of Vegetation Science 18, 4354.
Coop, J.D., Givnish, T.J., (2008). Constraints on tree seedling establishment in montane grasslands of the Valles Caldera, New Mexico. Ecology 89, 11011111.
Curry, R.R., (1968). Quaternary Climate and Glacial History of the Sierra Nevada, California. (Ph.D. dissertation) University of California at Berkeley, (238 pp.).
Curry, R.R., (1969). Holocene climate and glacial history of the central Sierra Nevada, California. Geological Society of America Special Paper 123, 147.
Denton, G.H., Karlen, W., (1973). Lichenometry: its application to Holocene moraine studies in southern Alaska and Swedish Lapland. Arctic and Alpine Research 5, 347372.
Gellally, A.F., (1982). Lichenometry as a relative-age dating method in Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 20, 343353.
Germino, M.J., Smith, W.K., Resor, A.C., (2002). Conifer seedling distribution and survival in an alpine-treeline ecotone. Plant Ecology 162, 157168.
Gillespie, A.R., Clark, D.H., (2010). Quaternary glaciation of the Sierra Nevada. Ehlers, J., Gibbard, P.L. Quaternary Glaciations and Chronology. Part II: North America, Developments in Quaternary Science vol. 2b, Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Hallett, D.J., Anderson, R.S., (2010). Paleofire reconstruction for high-elevation forests in the Sierra Nevada, California, with implications for wildfire synchrony and climate variability in the late Holocene. Quaternary Research 73, 180190.
Haworth, L.A., Calkin, P.E., Ellis, J.M., (1986). Direct measurement of lichen growth in the Central Brooks Range, Alaska, U.S.A., and its application to lichenometric dating. Arctic and Alpine Research 18, 289296.
Innes, J.L., (1985). An examination of some factors affecting the largest lichens on a substrate. Arctic and Alpine Research 17, 99106.
Jiménez-Moreno, G., Fawcett, P.J., Anderson, R.S., (2008). Millennial- and centennial-scale vegetation and climate changes during the late Pleistocene and Holocene from northern New Mexico (USA). Quaternary Science Reviews 27, 14421452.
Koerner, R.M., (1980). The problem of lichen-free zones in arctic Canada. Arctic and Alpine Research 12, 8794.
Konrad, S.K., Clark, D.H., (1998). Evidence for an early neoglacial glacier advance from rock glaciers and lake sediments in the Sierra Nevada, California, U.S.A.. Arctic and Alpine Research 30, 272284.
LaMarche jr., V.C., (1973). Holocene climatic variations inferred from tree line fluctuations in the White Mountains, California. Quaternary Research 3, 632660.
Lloyd, A.H., Graumlich, L.J., (1997). Holocene dynamics of tree line forests in the Sierra Nevada. Ecology 78, 1991210.
Mahaney, W.C., (1987). Tentative growth curve for Rhizocarpon geographicum s. l. in Stroud Basin, Wind River Range, western Wyoming. Northwest Science 61, 1319.
Miller, G.H., Andrews, J.T., (1972). Quaternary history of northern Cumberland Peninsula, East Baffin Island, N.W.T., Canada Part VI: preliminary lichen growth curve for Rhizocarpon geographicum . Geologic Society of America Bulletin 83, 11331138.
Nordt, L., von Fischer, J., Tieszen, L., (2007). Late Quaternary temperature record from buried soils of the North American Great Plains. Geology 35, 159162.
Orwin, J., (1972). The effect of environment on assemblages of lichens growing on rock surfaces. New Zealand Journal of Botany 10, 3747.
Pardow, A., Hartard, B., Lakatos, M., (2010). Morphological, photosynthetic and water relations traits underpin the contrasting success of two tropical lichen groups at the interior and edge of forest fragments. AoB Plants 2010, 112.
Paton, D.M., (1988). Genesis of an inverted treeline associated with a frost hollow in south-eastern Australia. Australia J. of Botany 36, 655663.
Pohl, M.M., Hajdas, I., Bonani, G., (1996). Assessing AMS 14C ages of detrital organics from Holocene and late-Pleistocene moraines, east-central Sierra Nevada, California, USA. The Holocene 6, 463467.
Porter, S.C., (1981). Lichenometric studies in the Cascade Range of Washington: establishment of Rhizocarpon geographicum growth curves at Mount Rainier. Arctic and Alpine Research 13, 1123.
Potito, A.P., Porinchu, D.F., MacDonald, G.M., Moser, K.A., (2006). A late Quaternary chironomid-inferred temperature record from the Sierra Nevada, California, with connections to northeast Pacific sea surface temperatures. Quaternary Research 66, 356363.
Reimer, P.J., Baillie, M.G.L., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, J.W., Bertrand, C.J.H., Blackwell, P.G., Buck, C.E., Burr, G.S., Cutler, K.B., Damon, P.E., Edwards, R.L., Fairbanks, R.G., Friedrich, M., Guilderson, T.P., Hogg, A.G., Hughen, K.A., Kromer, B., McCormac, G., Manning, S., Bronk Ramsey, C., Reimer, R.W., Remmele, S., Southon, J.R., Stuiver, M., Talamo, S., Taylor, F.W., van der Plicht, J., Weyhenmeyer, C.E., (2004). IntCal04 terrestrial radiocarbon age calibration, 0–26 cal kyr BP. Radiocarbon 46, 10291058.
Rodbell, D.T., (1992). Lichenometric and radiocarbon dating of Holocene glaciation, Cordillera Blanca, Peru. The Holocene 2, 1929.
Savoskul, O.S., Zech, W., (1997). Holocene glacier advances in the Topolovaya Valley, Bystrinskiy Range, Kamchatka, Russia, dated by tephrochronology and lichenometry. Arctic and Alpine Research 29, 143155.
Scuderi, L.A., (1984). A Dendroclimatic and Geomorphic Investigation of Late-Holocene Glaciation, Southern Sierra Nevada, California. University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, MI.(222 pp.).
Scuderi, L.A., (1987a). Glacier variations in the Sierra Nevada, California, as related to a 1200-chronology. Quaternary Research 27, year tree-ring 220231.
Scuderi, L.A., (1987b). Late-Holocene upper timberline variation, southern Sierra Nevada, USA. Nature 325, 242244.
Scuderi, L.A., (1993). A 2000-Mountains. Science 259, year tree-ring record of annual temperatures in the Sierra Nevada 14331436.
Scuderi, L.A., (1994). Solar influences on Holocene treeline altitude variability in the Sierra Nevada. Physical Geography 15, 146165.
Shi, P., Korner, C., Hoch, (2008). A test of the growth limitation theory for alpine tree line formation in evergreen and deciduous taxa of the eastern Himalayas. Functional Ecology 22, 213220.
Spence, J.R., Mahaney, W.C., (1988). Growth and ecology of Rhizocarpon section Rhizocarpon on Mount Kenya, East Africa. Arctic and Alpine Research 20, 237242.
Wiles, G.C., Barclay, D.J., Young, N.E., (2010). A review of lichenometric dating of glacial moraines in Alaska. Geografiska Annaler 92, 101109.

Keywords

Holocene environmental change resets lichen surface dates on Recess Peak glacial deposits in the Sierra Nevada, California

  • Louis A. Scuderi and Peter J. Fawcett

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed