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The Las Vegas Formation (LVF) is a well-characterized sequence of groundwater discharge (GWD) deposits exposed in and around the Las Vegas Valley in southern Nevada. Nearly monolithologic bedrock surrounds the valley, which provides an excellent opportunity to test the hypothesis that GWD deposits include an aeolian component. Mineralogical data indicate that the LVF sediments are dominated by carbonate minerals, similar to the local bedrock, but silicate minerals are also present. The median particle size is ~35 μm, consistent with modern dust in the region, and magnetic properties contrast strongly with local bedrock, implying an extralocal origin. By combining geochemical data from the LVF sediments and modern dust, we found that an average of ~25% of the LVF deposits were introduced by aeolian processes. The remainder consists primarily of authigenic groundwater carbonate as well as minor amounts of alluvial material and soil carbonate. Our data also show that the aeolian sediments accumulated in spring ecosystems in the Las Vegas Valley in a manner that was independent of both time and the specific hydrologic environment. These results have broad implications for investigations of GWD deposits located elsewhere in the southwestern U.S. and worldwide.
A multiproxy Holocene record from a bog in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, northern Ontario, Canada, was used to evaluate how ecohydrology relates to carbon accumulation. The study site is located at a somewhat higher elevation and on coarser grained deposits than the surrounding peatlands. This promotes better drainage and thus a slower rate of carbon accumulation relative to sites with similar initiation age. The rate of peat vertical accretion was initially low as the site transitioned from a marsh to a rich fen. These lower rates took place during the warmer temperatures of the Holocene thermal maximum, confirming the importance of hydrological controls limiting peat accretion at the local scale. Testate amoebae, pollen, and plant macrofossils indicate a transition to a poor fen and then a bog during the late Holocene, as the carbon accumulation rate and reconstructed water table depth increased. The bacterial membrane lipid biomarker indices used to infer paleotemperature show a summer temperature bias and appear sensitive to changes in peat type. The bacterial membrane lipid biomarker pH proxy indicates a rich to a poor fen and a subsequent fen to bog transition, which are supported by pollen, macrofossil, and testate amoeba records.
Analyses of macroscopic charcoal, sediment geochemistry (%C, %N, C/N, δ13C, δ15N), and fossil pollen were conducted on a sediment core recovered from Stella Lake, Nevada, establishing a 2000 year record of fire history and vegetation change for the Great Basin. Charcoal accumulation rates (CHAR) indicate that fire activity, which was minimal from the beginning of the first millennium to AD 750, increased slightly at the onset of the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA). Observed changes in catchment vegetation were driven by hydroclimate variability during the early MCA. Two notable increases in CHAR, which occurred during the Little Ice Age (LIA), were identified as major fire events within the catchment. Increased C/N, enriched δ15N, and depleted δ13C values correspond with these events, providing additional evidence for the occurrence of catchment-scale fire events during the late fifteenth and late sixteenth centuries. Shifts in the vegetation community composition and structure accompanied these fires, with Pinus and Picea decreasing in relative abundance and Poaceae increasing in relative abundance following the fire events. During the LIA, the vegetation change and lacustrine geochemical response was most directly influenced by the occurrence of catchment-scale fires, not regional hydroclimate.
Recent studies have shown the oxygen isotopic composition (δ18O) of modern terrestrial gastropod shells is determined largely by the δ18O of precipitation. This implies that fossil shells could be used to reconstruct the δ18O of paleo-precipitation as long as the isotopic system, including the hydrologic pathways of the local watershed and the gastropod systematics, is well understood. In this study, we measured the δ18O values of 456 individual gastropod shells collected from paleowetland deposits in the San Pedro Valley, Arizona that range in age from ca. 29.1 to 9.8 ka. Isotopic differences of up to 2‰ were identified among the four taxa analyzed (Succineidae, Pupilla hebes, Gastrocopta tappaniana, and Vallonia gracilicosta), with Succineidae shells yielding the highest values and V. gracilicosta shells exhibiting the lowest values. We used these data to construct a composite isotopic record that incorporates these taxonomic offsets, and found shell δ18O values increased by ~4‰ between the last glacial maximum and early Holocene, which is similar to the magnitude, direction, and rate of isotopic change recorded by speleothems in the region. These results suggest the terrestrial gastropods analyzed here may be used as a proxy for past climate in a manner that is complementary to speleothems, but potentially with much greater spatial coverage.
Soft-sediment deformation structures (SSDS) were identified in proglacial lacustrine (glaciolacustrine) sediments dated to 25–24 ka in the Buivydžiai outcrop, situated 30 km north of Vilnius in east Lithuania. These sediments accumulated in front of the last Weichselian glaciation maximum. The SSDS originated due to sandy silt liquefaction that disrupted the decimeter-thick silty sand interlayer. A NW-SE trending Buivydžiai fault was mapped in the proximity (8 km) of the Buivydžiai outcrop. The fault is well traced by a dense drilling in the sediments of the preglacial Daumantai Formation in the basal part of the Quaternary cover and attributed to the earliest Pleistocene. Depth difference of the formation along the fault is ~5–8 m; the northern flank is relatively uplifted with respect to the southern flank. The Buivydžiai earthquake was most likely induced by formation of an elastic forebulge flexure of the Earth's crust in front of the ice sheet. The magnitude was evaluated ~M = 6.0–6.5 and was most likely of shallow hypocenter depth. Furthermore, the Bystritsa (Belarus) earthquake of magnitude M = 3.5–4.0 was registered in December 1908 to the east (12 km) of the Buivydžiai outcrop along the Buivydžiai fault, which points to recurrent seismic activity of this fault.
Vegetation changes were documented across the last interglacial period (MIS 5e, Eemian) and continuing through the older part of the last glacial period (MIS 5d–a, early Weichselian). This study was based on pollen data collected at the Jałówka site, NE Poland. Two cold oscillations appeared within warm periods during this stage of the upper Pleistocene. The older oscillation was the temporary intra–interglacial cooling at the end of the Eemian. The younger one was the intra–interstadial cooling that occurred within the oldest interstadial of the early Weichselian (MIS 5c, Brørup). This last event corresponds well to the stadial separating both the Amersfoort and Brørup sensu stricto interstadials in the Netherlands and to the Montaigu event as recognized in France. The development of a pollen sequence allows speculation as to potential correlations with Greenland ice cores and marine records. We suggest that the Eemian in NE Poland may comprise not only MIS 5e, but also a part of MIS 5d. This supposition could shed light on potential for non-synchrony in upper boundaries of the MIS 5e and terrestrial Eemian in Europe. We await the development of more precise independent dating controls to validate our theory more assiduously.
Annual resolution sediment layers, known as varves, can provide continuous and high-resolution chronologies of sedimentary sequences. In addition, varve counting is not burdened with the high laboratory costs of geochronological analyses. Despite a more than 100-year history of use, many existing varve counting techniques are time consuming and difficult to reproduce. We present countMYvarves, a varve counting toolbox which uses sliding-window autocorrelation to count the number of repeated patterns in core scans or outcrop photos. The toolbox is used to build an annually-resolved record of sedimentation rates, which are depth-integrated to provide ages. We validate the model with repeated manual counts of a high sedimentation rate lake with biogenic varves (Herd Lake, USA) and a low sedimentation rate glacial lake (Lago Argentino, Argentina). In both cases, countMYvarves is consistent with manual counts and provides additional sedimentation rate data. The toolbox performs multiple simultaneous varve counts, enabling uncertainty to be quantified and propagated into the resulting age-depth model. The toolbox also includes modules to automatically exclude non-varved portions of sediment and interpolate over missing or disrupted sediment. CountMYvarves is open source, runs through a graphical user interface, and is available online for download for use on Windows, macOS or Linux at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4031811.
Landforms and sediments on the palaeo–ice stream beds of central Alberta record glacitectonic raft production and subsequent progressive disaggregation and moulding, associated substrate ploughing, and grooving. We identify a subglacial temporal or developmental hierarchy that begins with incipient rafts, including en échelon hill-hole complexes, hill-hole pairs, and strike-slip raft complexes, all of which display patterns typical of transcurrent fault activation and pull apart. Many display jigsaw puzzle–style fragmentation, indicative of substrate displacement along shallow décollement zones and potentially related to patchy ice stream freeze-on. Their gradual fragmentation and smoothing produces ice flow-transverse ridges (ribbed moraine), hill-groove pairs, and paraxial ridge and groove associations. Initiator scarp and megafluting associations are indicative of raft dislodgement and groove ploughing, leading to the formation of murdlins, crag-and-tails, stoss-and-lee type flutings and drumlins, and Type 1 hogsback flutings. Downflow modification of rafts creates linear block trains (rubble stripes), stoss-and-lee type megaflutings, horned crag-and-tails, rubble drumlinoids, and murdlins, diagnostic of an immature palaeo–ice stream footprint. Lateral ice stream margin migration ingests disaggregated thrust masses to form ridged spindles, ladder-type morphologies, and narrow zones of ribbed terrain and Type 2 hogsback flutings, an assemblage diagnostic of ice stream shear margin moraine formation.
Herbivore distribution throughout Africa is strongly linked to mean annual precipitation. We use that relationship to predict functional group composition of herbivore communities during the last glacial maximum (ca. 21 ka) on the now submerged Palaeo-Agulhas Plain (PAP), South Africa. We used metabolic large herbivore biomass (MLHB) from 39 South African protected areas, in five functional groups (characterized by behavior and physiology). We examined how modern factors influenced MLHB and considered the effects of biome, annual rainfall, percentage winter rainfall, and protected area size. Overall, biome was the most important factor influencing the relationship between MLHB and rainfall. In general, MLHB increased with rainfall, but not for the grassland biome. Outside grasslands, most functional groups’ metabolic biomass increased with increasing rainfall, irrespective of biome, except for medium-sized social mixed feeder species in savanna and thicket. Protected area size was influential for medium-sized social mixed feeders and large browsers and rainfall influenced medium-sized social mixed feeders, offering some perspectives on spatial constraints on past large herbivore biomass densities. These results improve our understanding of the likely herbivore community composition and relative biomass structure on the PAP, an essential driver of how early humans utilized large mammals as a food resource.
Climatic and environmental changes, as well as human action, have been cited as potential causes for the extinction of megafauna in South America at the end of the Pleistocene. Among megamammals lineages with Holarctic origin, only horses and proboscideans went extinct in South America during this period. This study aims to understand how the spatial extent of habitats suitable for Equus neogeus and Notiomastodon platensis changed between the last glacial maximum (LGM) and the middle Holocene in order to determine the impact that climatic and environmental changes had on these taxa. We used species distribution modeling to estimate their potential extent on the continent and found that both species occupied arid and semiarid open lands during the LGM, mainly in the Pampean region of Argentina, southern and northeastern Brazil, and parts of the Andes. However, when climate conditions changed from dry and cold during the LGM to humid and warm during the middle Holocene, the areas suitable for these taxa were reduced dramatically. These results support the hypothesis that climatic changes were a driving cause of extinction of these megamammals in South America, although we cannot rule out the impact of human actions or other potential causes for their extinction.
Sites dated to the early late Pleistocene are still limited in North China, which has hindered the detailed analysis of the development of Paleolithic industries in the late Pleistocene in this area. The Youfangbei (YFB) site is a newly excavated small-flake-tool Paleolithic site near the Youfang (YF) microblade site in the Nihewan Basin, North China. Because the small-flake-tool industry still existed in the late part of the late Pleistocene and might be related to the emergence of microlithic industries, the relationship between the two sites needs to be determined through a chronological study. Two profiles were excavated, and most of the artifact assemblages were unearthed in the lower profile (T1) from a depth of 0.9 m from the bottom. In this study, the feldspar post-infrared infrared stimulated luminescence method was applied to determine the age of the YFB site. Results showed that the upper profile was deposited from 86–0.5 ka, and the cultural layer in T1 yielded age of 124–82 ka, corresponding to Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5, with an irregular but generally mild climate. The age of the YFB site is too old to be directly related to that of the YF site, but it partly bridges a chronological gap of human occupation in the Nihewan Basin.
A closed Quaternary saline paleolake, currently still a lake and named Dalangtan after one of its largest sub-basins, has widely distributed sediments in the western Qaidam Basin, NE Tibetan Plateau. Lacustrine salt minerals and fine sediments from this paleolake provide an environmental record for investigating paleoclimatic evolution in the Asian interior. However, detailed continuous Pliocene–Quaternary paleoclimatic records are broadly lacking from the NE Tibetan Plateau owing to poor exposure of the outcrops in section. For this study, we performed a detailed magnetostratigraphic dating and rock magnetic analysis on a 590-m-long core from the SG-5 borehole in the western Qaidam Basin. The results demonstrate that the lacustrine sediments in the SG-5 borehole were deposited more than ~3.0 Ma. Saline minerals began to increase at 1.2 Ma, and the magnetic susceptibility (χ) also changed at that time; the percentage frequency-dependent magnetic susceptibility was relatively low and uniform throughout the whole core. These observations, combined with the χ, pollen, salt ion, and grain-size records from other boreholes, indicate that the western Qaidam Basin and the greater Asian interior had a significant climate transition at 1.2 Ma during an extreme drought.