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Glacial landforms and drift stratigraphy in central Magellan Strait, southernmost Chile, document repeated fluctuations during the last glacial cycle of outlet lobes from an ice cap centered over the southern Andes. The lobes developed comparatively low-gradient profiles because of low basal shear stresses over soft deformable beds and this made them sensitive to even small-scale changes in the mass balance. Such low profiles and rapid calving in deep proglacial lakes during deglaciation may have made the Magellan ice lobe particularly responsive to climatic fluctuations during the last glacial cycle, and to advance and retreat over considerable distances. Study of the glacial landforms and drift stratigraphy has led to the identification of at least five glacier advances to limits at and south of the Segunda Angostura. Fragments of mollusc shells contained in basal till indicate marine incursions between some advances, thus documenting extensive deglaciation. A partial chronology based on amino acid studies and radiocarbon dating suggests that five of these advances occurred during the last glacial cycle. The most extensive advances may have culminated during substages of marine isotope stage 5 (substage 5b or 5d) and/or during stage 4. Slightly less extensive advances occurred between ca. 28,000 and 14,000 yr B.P.
Particle-size measurements of some typical loess-soil samples taken in different localities of the Chinese Loess Plateau demonstrate that the grain size ratio of <2 μm/>10 μm (%) can be used as an indicator of variations in intensity of the East Asian winter monsoon winds. Grain-size curves of the Baoji and Weinan sections show that this proxy indicator is very sensitive to loess-soil alterations. Analytical results also suggest that during soil-forming periods, eolian dust accumulation was still substantial and, hence, loess deposition can be regarded as a nearly continuous process during the Quaternary period. In this study we compared the Baoji grain-size time series with the SPECMAP marine isotope record with the objective of elucidating the dynamic linkage between changes in global ice volume and the winter monsoon circulation. Both records show good agreement at both time and frequency domains. In particular, the winter monsoon variations are also dominated by a 100,000 yr period over the past 800,000 yr. It is thus inferred that direct local insolation forcing could be less important in driving the East Asian winter monsoon variability, and, alternatively, variations in glacial-age boundary conditions may have played a key role in modulating and pacing its strength and timing.
As part of a regional investigation of the aminostratigraphy of central European loess deposits, we have sampled and analyzed the amino acid composition of fossil gastropod shells from stratotype loess profiles at Mende, Basaharc, and Paks, plus the profile at Süttö, in an effort to correlate independently loess-paleosol formations of the "Young Loess" of Hungary with loess units elsewhere in the region. The measured extent of isoleucine epimerization in fossil gastropod shells preserved in loess sediments was used to evaluate the relative ages of stratigraphic units and correlate between discontinuous exposures. Based on amino acid epimerization ratios, we propose a new chronology for the standard "Young Loess" profile of Hungary. Amino acid geochronological data suggest that paleosol complexes MF, BD1 + 2, and BA formed during interglaciations, rather than interstades. Correlations are suggested with PK 2 + 3 (last interglaciation), PK 4 (penultimate interglaciation), and PK 5, respectively, from previously described Czech and Slovak localities.
Climatic changes inferred from lacustrine deposits and lake-level fluctuations in northwestern and central China are mainly based on paleoclimatic records from the Tibetan Plateau, while there is still a lack of data relating to the semiarid/arid desert regions of Inner Mongolia. In the Tengger Desert, different paleolake levels at Baijian Hu are documented by six paleoshorelines and stratified lake carbonates. The highest lake level occurred ca. 39,000 14C yr B.P. and prevailed over about 16,000 km2. From sediment structure, geochemical composition, and ostracods we infer humid/cool conditions until 23,000 14C yr B.P. In the northern Badanjilin Desert at Gaxan Nur/Sogu Nur, high lake levels can be deduced from mollusc-bearing paleobeaches and lake carbonates, which have been dated to 34,000 14C yr B.P. and indicate a lake that covered some 32,000 km2. After ca. 20,000 yr B.P. the climate became dry with increased eolian activity and decreasing lake levels. Reestablishment of wet conditions occurred ca. 13,000 yr B.P. The Holocene is represented by stratified lake deposits that alternate with fluvial and eolian deposits, indicating a longterm oscillating trend toward arid conditions. The existence of widespread freshwater lakes during the late Pleistocene indicates a semihumid climate without an accompanying fall in temperature to arctic conditions.
A sequence of northern Lake Michigan beach ridges records lake-level fluctuations that are probably related to changes in late Holocene climate. Historically, episodes of falling and low lake level associated with regional drought led to the formation of dune-capped beach ridges. The timing of prehistoric ridge formation, estimated by radiocarbon dating of plant macrofossils from early-successional dune species, shows that return periods of inferred drought, averaged for time intervals of 100 to 480 yr, ranged between 17 and 135 yr per drought during the last 2400 yr. In five of ten of these time intervals, the average return period ranged between 17 and 22 yr per drought. These intervals of frequent ridge formation and drought were associated with the development of parabolic dunes, which is indicative of high lake level and moist climate. This seeming paradox suggests that unusually moist decades alternated with unusually dry decades during these time intervals. Regional water balance probably varied less during the time intervals when ridges formed less often and the lake produced no evidence of high level.
A stratigraphic analysis of buried soils within the Grand Sable Dunes, a dune field perched 90 m above the southern shore of Lake Superior, reveals a history of eolian activity apparently linked with lake-level fluctuations over the last 5500 yr. A relative rise in the water plane of the Nipissing Great Lakes initially destabilized the lakeward bluff face of the Grand Sable plateau between 5400 and 4600 14C yr B.P. This led to the burial of the Sable Creek soil by eolian sediments derived from the bluff face. Subsequent episodes of eolian activity appear to be tied to similar destabilizing events; high lake levels may have initiated at least four and perhaps eleven episodes of dune building as expressed by soil burials within the dunes. Intervening low lake levels probably correlate with soil profile development, which varies from the well-developed Sable Creek Spodosol catena to thin organic layers containing in-place stumps and tree trunks. Paleoecological reconstructions available for the area do not imply enough climatic change to account for the episodic dune activity. Burial of soils by fine-fraction sediments links dune-building episodes with destabilization of the lower lake-facing bluff, which is rich in fines.
New geochemical data on tephra samples from a layer present at several archeological sites in India support correlation of this layer to the Youngest Toba Tuff, erupted from northern Sumatra about 74,000 yr ago. The data show that the Indian tephra layer is not a correlative of older tephra erupted from Toba, as has been suggested on the basis of artifact assemblages. Previously published geochemical data on the Indian tephra beds was based on bulk ash samples containing mineral and clay contaminants, and the resulting variability in analyses did not allow identification or discrimination of individual eruptive events. Our new data were collected on individual glass shards and small, purified glass separates which have greater resolving power in fingerprinting. Acheulian and Paleolithic artifacts found at some of the Indian tephra sites do not reflect the antiquity of the tephra bed, as they occur in fluvial sediments and may be reworked.
A 46-m core of lake sediments, obtained from the center of the explosion crater of Praclaux (Haute-Loire, Velay, France), was studied on the basis of 368 pollen spectra. Five temperate forest episodes alternating with phases indicative of glacial climates are recorded. Two of these episodes show vegetation successions representative of full interglaciations; the oldest is contemporaneous with the Holsteinian interglaciation. A thick trachytic tephra permits correlation to be established with the pollen sequence from Lac du Bouchet. This comparison indicates the presence of two complete interglaciations between the Holsteinian and the Eemian that are the equivalents of marine isotope stages 7 and 9. The Holsteinian therefore corresponds to isotope stage 11.
A pollen and sediment record of a core 4.2-m-long from Laguna Baja (7°42′ S, 77°32′ W, 3575 m) in the Cordillera Oriental of northern Peru suggests several episodes of major vegetational and climatic change over the past 13,000 yr. The oldest pollen assemblage consists of a mixture of paramo elements (tropical alpine vegetation), including high percentages of Poaceae (40%) that decline upward, moist montane forest (Compositae and Polylepis), and wet montane forest (e.g., Hedyosmum and Podocarpaceae). Organic carbon content range from <2% to 8%. About 11,600 yr B.P. this mixed pollen assemblage was replaced by Poaceae (>60%), with high percentages of Jamesonia, a fern characteristic of paramo and decreasing values of Plantago tubulosa and the wet montane forest elements Hedyosmum and Podocarpaceae. Charcoal percentages are at a maximum during this period, magnetic susceptibility and sand percentages are high, and percentages of organic matter are low. Several explanations for these changes are possible, including a reduction in temperature and moisture, more frequent periods of aridity with increased fires, or natural succession. The Holocene record begins with pronounced increases in organic carbon and pollen of wet montane forest, primarily Hedyosmum , Podacarpaceae, and Urticales. High values of Podocarpaceae pollen (>35%) and a decline in charcoal suggest temperature and moisture levels above modern-day values. Wet montane forest pollen remain high and charcoal values are low from about 10,000 to 6000 yr B.P., suggesting that warm and moist conditions prevailed for about 4000 yr. Subsequently Podocarpaceae and Urticales decline, and for a brief time Alnus is prominent in the pollen record. Following the Alnus maximum at about 5000 yr B.P., Poaceae, Ambrosia and Chenopodiaceae/Amaranthaceae become frequent. Increased paramo and disturbance indicator pollen suggest increased anthropogenic activities in this region from the middle Holocene to the present.
Modern pollen samples from 15 lakes along a north-south transect on western Somerset Island, NWT, Canada, show a decrease in pollen concentrations from the high arctic to the mid-arctic zone, but there are few differences in the pollen percentages between these sites. Long-distance transport accounts for up to 50% of the pollen in these lake sediments. Cores from two lakes show few changes in the percentages of important pollen types, except for an initial period, before 6000 yr B.P., of increased Salix. The pollen concentration of lake RS36 from the mid-arctic is twice that of lake RS29 from the high arctic, and at both sites the concentrations decreased during the past 6000 yr B.P. This suggests a climatic deterioration during the past 6000 yr which has caused a decrease in the abundance of plants on the landscape.
New pollen records from White Lake in the Southern High Plains and from Friesenhahn Cave on the southeastern Edwards Plateau of Texas indicate that the glacial-age vegetation of the southern Great Plains was a grassland. The High Plains was a treeless Artemisia grassland and the Edwards Plateau, at the south edge of the Great Plains, was a grassland with pinyon pines and deciduous trees in canyons and riparian habitats. The glacial-age grasslands differ from modern shortgrass and tallgrass prairies and may have no modern analog. The dominance of prairie vegetation during the last glacial maximum is compatible with late Pleistocene mammalian faunas and late-glacial grassland pollen records from the region. Earlier interpretations of a pine-spruce forest on the High Plains were based on pollen assemblages that are here shown to have been altered by postdepositional deterioration, resulting in differential preservation of conifer pollen grains. Accordingly, the "Tahoka Pluvial" and other "climatic episodes" defined by High Plains pollen records are abandoned.
Woodrat middens from the northern Bonneville Basin allow a reconstruction of vegetation changes from 14,000 to 9000 yr ago. Cold montane steppe, dominated by sagebrush, covered much of the western Bonneville Basin prior to 13,000 yr ago. From 13,000-10,800 yr ago, the region was vegetated by limber pine woodlands in lower montane settings and a mosaic of limber pine and sagebrush steppe along basin flour margins. These low-elevation limber pine woodlands began to retreat upslope after about 11,000 yr ago due to increasingly drier climatic conditions, and were replaced by relatively more xeric desert scrub dominated by sagebrush and shadscale. The growth of limber pine at low elevations suggests that summer temperatures were as much as 6°C lower than at present. This evidence is in apparent conflict with the currently accepted post-Provo Lake Bonneville chronology, especially the magnitude of the postulated near-dessication of Lake Bonneville from ca. 13,000-12,200 yr ago.
Ring widths from five Picea glauca stands at the alpine treeline in northwestern Canada are used to investigate climate-growth responses and to develop a long reconstruction of summer temperatures. Response function and linear regression analyses indicate that the radial growth response of these trees to climate varies with age and site. At most sites, the period of significant positive response to growing season temperatures declines with tree age. Age-dependent and standard (age independent) models are then used to develop two reconstructions of June-July temperatures for northwestern Canada extending back to A.D. 1638. Calibration statistics were similar for both models, but the standard model performed poorly during verification. The reconstruction produced using age-dependent modeling suggests June-July temperatures were cooler than present throughout most of the past 350 years, with the exception of the late 18th century. Particularly cool periods occurred at ∼1700 and in the mid-19th century. In constast, the standard model suggests that temperatures were similar to or warmer than present during the last 350 years. The age-dependent reconstruction compares favorably with other proxy climate records from northern North America. Age-dependent dendroclimatic modeling can provide a sensitive record of recent climatic change that allows the inclusion of previously rejected sites into dendroclimatic analyses.
Tree-ring chronologies from living and sub-fossil Pinus flexilis James (limber pine) trees extend back more than 500 yr on the western edge of the Great Plains in Alberta. Living trees were found to be as old as 526 yr. Tree-ring growth in Pinus flexilis is most sensitive to annual precipitation over the annualization period August to July. The longevity of the trees coupled with their sensitivity to variations in annual precipitation make them an important resource for constructing annually resolved multicentury records of paleohydrology on the northwestern Great Plains. A 487-yr reconstruction of annual precipitation in southwestern Alberta was produced from the tree-ring series. This is the longest dendroclimatological reconstruction of precipitation available from the northern plains. The reconstruction has some similarity to reconstructions from the western Great Plains of the United States. However, there are also many divergences in the timing of droughts. Some of this divergence may reflect the importance of orographic uplift in producing precipitation along the eastern flanks of the Rocky Mountains. Our reconstruction shows that the frequency of droughts in Alberta during the period of instrumental records, about the last 100 yr, has not been appreciably different from conditions of the preceding four centuries. In addition, the most severe drought of this century, which led to widespread farm abandonment between 1918 and 1922, was not the most severe drought in the past 487 yr.
A sequence of seven superimposed paleosols developed on eolian calcarenites and alluvium was sampled on the island of Lanzarote in order to examine the possibility of dating land snail shells by the U-series method, using a TIMS technique allowing measurement of U and Th isotopes in very small samples. In the lower six units, the fossil shells yielded D-allo/L-isoleucine (A/I) ratios of about 0.5 and apparent AMS 14C ages ranging from 41,000 to 34,000 yr B.P., indicating that most paleosols formed during a relatively short mid-Würm humid episode. The upper unit (paleosol 7) yielded more variable A/I ratios (ranging from 0.6 to 0.2) and a younger 14C age ∼27,000 yr B.P. Most samples contained enough U to allow the calculation of U-series ages, after correction for the presence of a detrital component. In samples containing a few tens of ppb of U (paleosols 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7), the ages are strongly dependent upon the model used for the correction. In samples containing more than 300 ppb of U (paleosols 4 and 5), concordant ages of ∼31,000 ± 1000 yr were obtained regardless of the correction model used. U uptake in these shells occurred during one single early diagenetic phase, soon after burial, since shells of modern snails do not contain any significant amount of U. The arid conditions subsequent to the mid-Würm humid episode have likely ensured since then a fair closure of the radioactive system.
Paleoceanographic and onshore paleoclimatic changes during the last 59,000 yr are established from three deep-sea sediment cores off northeast New Zealand using an integrated log of sediment texture, CaCO3 content, palynology, and planktonic and benthic foraminiferal δ18O and δ13C data, together with dated silicic tephras. These records from the isotopic stage 4-3 boundary to the present record northern New Zealand vegetation history, changes in a subsidiary equatorward flow of Circumpolar Deep Water, and sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) for subtropical water (STW) between latitudes 36°42′ and 35°51′S. Relative to the Holocene, isotopically derived SSTs record average changes of +2°C, -2°C, and -2°C for the 59,000-43,000, 43,000-24,000, and 24,000-12,000 yr time slices, respectively. The apparent +2°C warming for the 59,000-43,000 yr period is interpreted to reflect changes in the dominant depth habitat of Globigerina bulloides in response to upwelling. A -2°C cooling of SSTs during isotope stage 2 is interpreted, in part, to reflect upwelling of cool subsurface water resulting from strong and persistent westerly airflow across New Zealand, with the concomitant enhanced surface-water production of CaCO3. Onshore, vegetation consistent with these changes are recorded, with full conifer-hardwood forest prior to 43,000 yr, followed by a change to vegetation implying cooler and drier conditions between 43,000 and 12,000 yr, and a subsequent return to full forest during the Holocene. The sequence of biopelagic and hemipelagic sedimentation observed within these cores reflect oscillation of sea level about a threshold eustatic level that controls the transport of terrigenous detritus offshore. Local variations and interplay of the regional oceanography and morphology and tectonism of the continental shelf will dictate that, relative to present sea level, this threshold eustatic sea level will vary in depth, and hence age, along a continental margin. Data from the New Zealand region reveal an extremely steep meridional thermal gradient across the southern and central New Zealand region during the last glaciation with minor cooling of STW to the north, apart from localized nearshore upwelling zones, but pronounced cooling of subantarctic water to the south of the subtropical convergence zone.
Vibracores collected from water depths of 130 to 150 m on the outer continental shelf of southeastern Australia contain evidence for several cycles of shallow marine deposition. One of these vibracores (112/VC/134; lat. 33°24′S, long, 151°58′ E) preserves evidence for the last three glacial lowstands, as inferred from radiocarbon dating, amino acid racemization, and fossil mollusc assemblages. The core contains the inner-shelf molluscs Pecten fumatus, Placamen placidium, and Tawera gallinula, which today live in water depths of 10 to 50 m, in the cool waters of southern Australia. Radiocarbon dating and amino acid racemization analyses on multiple valves of P. fumatus in the core indicate three distinct age groupings of fossil molluscs: (1) those younger than 20,000 yr B.P., (2) those with minimum ages of about 100,000 yr, and (3) those with minimum ages of about 200,000 yr. We assign these sediments to oxygen isotope stages 2, 6, and 8, respectively. The core contains the first shallow-marine lowstand deposits to be recovered from the shelf of eastern Australia. These deposits constrain the last three glacial lowstands on this margin to water depths <130 m below present sea level.