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Changes in ocean temperature, carbonate productivity, and ice-rafted detritus in the North Atlantic suggest that half of the Northern Hemisphere ice volume at the last glacial maximum had disappeared by 13,000 yr B.P., despite the still-extensive limits of the ice sheets. This early thinning of the ice sheets occurred during a time when summer insolation values were slowly rising but when pollen evidence south of the ice margins indicates cold, dry air masses. We infer that this rapid early ice disintegration (16,000–13,000 yr B.P.) was caused by oceanic mechanisms: (1) rising sea level, causing increased calving along ice margins; (2) the chilling of the sea-surface by icebergs and meltwater, reducing moisture extraction by the atmosphere and transport to the ice sheets; and (3) winter freezing of the low-salinity meltwater layer, suppressing local moisture extraction and the regional influx of moisture-bearing storms from lower latitudes in winter and hence starving the ice sheets. These oceanic feedback mechanisms were strongest from 16,000 to 13,000 yr B.P., and weaker but still active from that date until the end of deglaciation at 6000 yr B.P.
Two reconstructed histories of the monsoon rainfall in Rajasthan show that the monsoon was weak or absent in latest glacial time. With the advent of Holocene climatic patterns, fresh water lakes formed in dune fields and the pollen rain preserved in these reservoirs provides a basis for the reconstruction of the monsoon history. The two reconstructions, separated by only 150 km, have some features in common and some striking differences. Both show maximum monsoon amounts in the early Holocene, with a roughly two-thirds decrease to the present. Both show salinization in sub-Boreal time. Both show long intervals of near complete desiccation in the last four millennia. The shorter term variations, however, are not closely parallel. These shorter term variations may be explained in terms of the behavior of the present day interannual variability.
Larval caddisfly, chironomid, and beetle remains have been recovered from the Pleistocene Scarborough Formation in the Toronto region of southern Ontario. Three stratigraphic levels were sampled at the northeastern end of the Scarborough Bluffs; the youngest horizon yielded 16 chironomid taxa, 33 caddisfly taxa, and 28 beetle taxa, whereas the two older levels yielded somewhat less diverse assemblages. Only one taxon in each of the caddisfly and chironomid groups was identified from the presumed correlative beds at Woodbridge, Ontario, but numerous beetle fragments were recovered, several of which have been specifically identified and match species found previously in the upper part of the Scarborough Formation. The youngest sampled assemblage in the Scarborough Formation at the northeastern end of the Scarborough Bluffs is interpreted as indicating cool climatic conditions in a boreal forest environment, given the present-day distributions and feeding habits of these river, lake, and terrestrial taxa. The mean July temperature at this time was probably about 15°C, as compared to the present-day value of 20.5°C. The forest was poorer in deciduous species during deposition of the older part of the formation as preserved here. These results agree well with previous interpretations based on plant remains. We suggest that both aquatic and terrestrial insects are good indicators of macroclimate.
The Canyon Creek vertebrate-fossil locality is an extensive road cut near Fairbanks that exposes sediments that range in age from early Wisconsin to late Holocene. Tanana River gravel at the base of the section evidently formed during the Delta Glaciation of the north-central Alaska Range. Younger layers and lenses of fluvial sand are interbedded with arkosic gravel from Canyon Creek that contains tephra as well as fossil bones of an interstadial fauna about 40,000 years old. Solifluction deposits containing ventifacts, wedge casts, and rodent burrows formed during a subsequent period of periglacial activity that took place during the maximum phase of Donnelly Glaciation about 25,000–17,000 years ago. Overlying sheets of eolian sand are separated by a 9500-year-old paleosol that may correlate with a phase of early Holocene spruce expansion through central Alaska. The Pleistocene fauna from Canyon Creek consists of rodents (indicated by burrows), Mammuthus primigenius (woolly mammoth), Equus lambei (Yukon wild ass), Camelops hesternus (western camel), Bison sp. cf. B. crassicornis (large-horned bison), Ovis sp. cf.O. dalli (mountain sheep), Canis sp. cf. C. lupus (wolf), Lepus sp. cf. L. othus or L. arcticus (tundra hare), and Rangifer sp. (caribou). This assemblage suggests an open landscape in which trees and tall shrubs were either absent or confined to sheltered and moist sites. Camelops evidently was present in eastern Beringia during the middle Wisconsin interstadial interval but may have disappeared during the following glacial episode. The stratigraphic section at Canyon Creek appears to demonstrate that the Delta Glaciation of the north-central Alaska Range is at least in part of early Wisconsin age and was separated from the succeeding Donnelly Glaciation by an interstadial rather than interglacial episode.
The sequence of Quaternary deposits beneath the floor of San Francisco Bay includes four to seven noncontemporaneous estuarine units intercalated with alluvium and dune sand. Units L (0–10,000 B.P.), M (>40,000 B.P., probably ca. 80,000–140,000 B.P.), and N (older than unit M) are distinctly superposed. The dominant molluscan fossil in each of these three units is Ostrea lurida Carpenter, the native oyster along much of the pacific Coast of North America. Despite a lamellar structure that suggests vulnerability to contamination, O. lurida shells generally yield amino acid enantiomeric ratios that are analytically reproducible and stratigraphically consistent. The kinetics of racemization in O. lurida conceivably resembles that of Protothaca and Saxidomus, other bivalves whose kinetics of racemization are relatively well understood. Assuming such a resemblance, enantiomeric ratios in O. lurida imply that (1) unit M is the same approximate age as estuarine terrace deposits bordering San Pablo Bay and Carquinez Strait, providing that the terrace deposits have been at diagenetic temperatures 1°-2°C warmer than unit M; and (2) the age of unit N is about four times greater than that of unit M, providing that both units have been at the same approximate diagenetic temperature.
Remnants of a fixed aeolian dune ridge occur along the southeast coast of Ghana, just behind the present shoreline. Aeolian sands also cover extensive areas of the Accra Plains. No dunes are present here, the sands mainly occurring as sheets which blanket an early Holocene landscape. The sediments are of mid-Holocene age and were deposited during the interval 4500 B.P.–3800 yr B.P., when the southwesterly winds were stronger than they are at present and much of tropical Africa seems to have been subject to marked aridity. The onset of drier, windier conditions around 4500 yr B.P. brought to an end the more equable climates than had characterized much of West Africa during the earlier Holocene. Aridity, intensified winds, and desert expansion between 4500 and 3800 yr B.P. parallel environmental conditions in tropical continental areas at the height of the Late Pleistocene glaciation.
Pollen and macrofossil analyses of a core spanning 26,000 yr from Davis Lake reveal late Pleistocene and Holocene vegetational patterns in the Puget Lowland. The core ranges lithologically from a basal inorganic clay to a detritus gyttja to an upper fibrous peat and includes eight tephra units. The late Pleistocene pollen sequence records two intervals of tundra-parkland vegetation. The earlier of these has high percentages of Picea, Gramineae, and Artemisia pollen and represents the vegetation during the Evans Creek Stade (Fraser Glaciation) (ca. 25,000–17,000 yr B.P.). The later parkland interval is dominated by Picea, Tsuga mertensiana, and Gramineae. It corresponds to the maximum ice advance in the Puget Lowland during the Vashon Stade (Fraser Glaciation) (ca. 14,000 yr B.P.). An increase in Pinus ontorta pollen between the two tundra-parkland intervals suggests a temporary rise in treeline during an unnamed interstade. After 13,500 yr B.P., a mixed woodland of subalpine and lowland conifers grew at Davis Lake during a period of rapid climatic amelioration. In the early Holocene, the prolonged expansion of Pseudotsuga and Alnus woodland suggests dry, temperate conditions similar to those of present rainshadow sites in the Puget Lowland. More-mesic forests of Tsuga eterophylla, Thuja plicata, and Pseudotsuga, similar to present lowland vegetation, appeared in the late Holocene (ca. 5500 yr B.P.).
The Shungura Formation of southwestern Ethiopia has yielded many tens of thousands of vertebrate fossils including hominids and microvertebrates, and in addition has also yielded fossil wood, pollen, and invertebrates. Widespread tuffs have made subdivision and detailed mapping of the formation possible, have provided material for potassium-argon dating, and have allowed direct lithostratigraphic correlation with the Koobi Fora Formation in northern Kenya. The basis for correlation between the two formations is the distinctive chemistry of the tuffs, but systematic chemical variation within some tuffs invalidates some statistical correlation techniques. Here chemical analysis of glass separates and minerals from tuffs of the Shungura and Usno Formations are presented which may allow further ties to be established when data become available on other tuffs of the Koobi Fora Formation. The tuffs consist primarily of glass, but also contain phenocrysts of anorthoclase, hedenbergitic pyroxene, sodic amphibole, ilmenite, titanomagnetite, chevkinite, quartz, zircon, and rarely orthopyroxene and plagioclase. The glasses show evidence of alkali loss during hydration, and are not now peralkaline, although it is likely that they were initially. The source volcanoes were most likely situated within the Ethiopian rift valley, or on its margins.