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Despite extensive paleoenvironmental research on the postglacial history of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, uncertainties remain regarding the region's deglaciation, vegetation development, and past hydroclimate. To elucidate this complex environmental history, we present new proxy datasets from Hidden and Kelly lakes, located in the eastern Kenai lowlands at the foot of the Kenai Mountains, including sedimentological properties (magnetic susceptibility, organic matter, grain size, and biogenic silica), pollen and macrofossils, diatom assemblages, and diatom oxygen isotopes. We use a simple hydrologic and isotope mass balance model to constrain interpretations of the diatom oxygen isotope data. Results reveal that glacier ice retreated from Hidden Lake's headwaters by ca. 13.1 cal ka BP, and that groundwater was an important component of Kelly Lake's hydrologic budget in the Early Holocene. As the forest developed and the climate became wetter in the Middle to Late Holocene, Kelly Lake reached or exceeded its modern level. In the last ca. 75 years, rising temperature caused rapid changes in biogenic silica content and diatom oxygen isotope values. Our findings demonstrate the utility of mass balance modeling to constrain interpretations of paleolimnologic oxygen isotope data, and that groundwater can exert a strong influence on lake water isotopes, potentially confounding interpretations of regional climate.
Paleobiological and paleoecological interpretations rely on constraining the temporal resolution of the fossil record. The taphonomic clock, that is, a correlation between the alteration of skeletal material and its age, is an approach for quantifying time-averaging scales. We test the taphonomic clock hypothesis for marine demersal and pelagic fish otoliths from a 10–40 m depth transect on the Mediterranean siliciclastic Israeli shelf by radiocarbon dating and taphonomic scoring. Otolith ages span the last ~8000 yr, with considerable variation in median and range along the transect. Severely altered otoliths, contrary to pristine otoliths, are likely to be older than 1000 yr. For pelagic fish otoliths, at 30 m depth, taphonomic degradation correlates positively with postmortem age. In contrast, no correlation occurs for demersal fishes at 10 and 30 m depth, mostly because of the paucity of very young pristine (<150 yr) otoliths, possibly due to a drop in production over the last few centuries. Contrary to molluscan and brachiopod shells, young otoliths at these depths are little affected and do not show a broad spectrum of taphonomic damage, because those that derive from predation are excreted in calcium- and phosphate-rich feces forming an insoluble crystallic matrix that increases their preservation potential. At 40 m depth, all dated otoliths are very young but rather damaged because of locally chemically aggressive sediments, thus showing no correlation between taphonomic grade and postmortem age. Our results show that local conditions and the target species population dynamics must be considered when testing the taphonomic clock hypothesis.
The direct carbonate procedure for accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon (AMS 14C) dating of submilligram samples of biogenic carbonate without graphitization is becoming widely used in a variety of studies. We compare the results of 153 paired direct carbonate and standard graphite 14C determinations on single specimens of an assortment of biogenic carbonates. A reduced major axis regression shows a strong relationship between direct carbonate and graphite percent Modern Carbon (pMC) values (m = 0.996; 95% CI [0.991–1.001]). An analysis of differences and a 95% confidence interval on pMC values reveals that there is no significant difference between direct carbonate and graphite pMC values for 76% of analyzed specimens, although variation in direct carbonate pMC is underestimated. The difference between the two methods is typically within 2 pMC, with 61% of direct carbonate pMC measurements being higher than their paired graphite counterpart. Of the 36 specimens that did yield significant differences, all but three missed the 95% significance threshold by 1.2 pMC or less. These results show that direct carbonate 14C dating of biogenic carbonates is a cost-effective and efficient complement to standard graphite 14C dating.
Sediments that accumulate in high-latitude lakes serve as valuable environmental archives of changing conditions in a region currently undergoing rapid change. A previously unexplored sedimentary sequence reaching back 16,000 years from Lakes Peters and Schrader (Neruokpuk Lakes) in the northeastern Brooks Range (69°N), Alaska, shows distinct changes in accumulation rates and biophysical properties including bulk density (BD), organic matter (OM) content, and grain-size distribution at five widely distributed core sites. The oldest sediments contain little OM and accumulated rapidly as glaciers retreated around 15 ka. OM peaked between 12 and 10 ka along with Northern Hemisphere summer insolation. BD increased and OM decreased until around 5 ka, possibly reflecting a decrease in river-transported terrestrial OM. From 5–2 ka, OM consistently increased, suggesting a rise in river discharge, or a rise in summer temperatures, which led to higher productivity, or both. After 2 ka, sediments increased in BD and decreased in OM, suggesting glacier growth. Evidence for glacier expansion late during the Little Ice Age is weak, but increased sedimentation rates may reflect glacier retreat during the last century. This study provides a framework for future paleoenvironmental research of a rare archive in a relatively pristine Arctic setting.
Understanding the properties of time averaging (age mixing) in a stratigraphic layer is essential for properly interpreting the paleofauna preserved in the geologic record. This work assesses the age and quantifies the scale and structure of time averaging of land snail-rich colluvial sediments from the Madeira Archipelago (Portugal) by dating individual shells using amino acid racemization calibrated with graphite-target and carbonate-target accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon methods. Gastropod shells of Actinella nitidiuscula were collected from seven sites on the volcanic islands of Bugio and Deserta Grande (Desertas Islands), where snail shells are abundant and well preserved in Quaternary colluvial deposits. Results show that the shells ranged in age from modern to ~48 cal ka BP (calibrated radiocarbon age), covering the last glacial and present interglacial periods. Snail shells retrieved from two of the colluvial sites exhibit multimillennial age mixing (>6 ka), which significantly exceeds the analytical error from dating methods and calibration. The observed multimillennial mixing of these assemblages should be taking into consideration in upcoming paleoenvironmental and paleoecological studies in the region. The extent of age mixing may also inform about the time span of colluvial deposition, which can be useful in future geomorphological studies. In addition, this study presents the first carbonate-target radiocarbon results for land snail shells and suggests that this novel, rapid, and more affordable dating method offers reliable age estimates for small land snail shells younger than ~20 cal ka BP.
Estimating the effects and timing of anthropogenic impacts on the composition of macrobenthic communities is challenging, because early twentieth-century surveys are sparse and the corresponding intervals in sedimentary sequences are mixed by bioturbation. Here, to assess the effects of eutrophication on macrobenthic communities in the northern Adriatic Sea, we account for mixing with dating of the bivalve Corbula gibba at two stations with high accumulation (Po prodelta) and one station with moderate accumulation (Isonzo prodelta). We find that, first, pervasively bioturbated muds typical of highstand conditions deposited in the early twentieth century were replaced by muds with relicts of flood layers and high content of total organic carbon (TOC) deposited in the late twentieth century at the Po prodelta. The twentieth century shelly muds at the Isonzo prodelta are amalgamated but also show an upward increase in TOC. Second, dating of C. gibba shells shows that the shift from the early to the late twentieth century is characterized by a decrease in stratigraphic disorder and by an increase in temporal resolution of assemblages from ~25–50 years to ~10–20 years in both regions. This shift reflects a decline in the depth of the fully mixed layer from more than 20 cm to a few centimeters. Third, the increase in abundance of the opportunistic species C. gibba and the loss of formerly abundant, hypoxia-sensitive species coincided with the decline in bioturbation, higher preservation of organic matter, and higher frequency of seasonal hypoxia in both regions. This depositional and ecosystem regime shift occurred in ca. a.d. 1950. Therefore, the effects of enhanced food supply on macrobenthic communities were overwhelmed by oxygen depletion, even when hypoxic conditions were limited to few weeks per year in the northern Adriatic Sea. Preservation of trends in molluscan abundance and flood events in cores was enhanced by higher frequency of hypoxia that reduced bioturbation in the late twentieth century.
Extensive marine terraces along the North Canterbury coast of the South Island of New Zealand record uplift in this tectonically active area. Although the terraces have been studied previously, applications of Quaternary geochronological techniques to the region have been limited. We use infrared-stimulated luminescence (IRSL), amino acid racemization (AAR), and radiocarbon to determine ages of terraces at three locations—Glenafric, Motunau Beach, and Haumuri Bluff. We develop an AAR calibration curve for the mollusk species Tawera spissa from sites of known age, including the sedimentary sequence of the Whanganui Basin. Bayesian model averaging of the results is used to estimate ages of marine shells from the North Canterbury terraces. By using both IRSL and AAR, we are able to confirm ages using two independent dating methods and to identify one IRSL result that is likely in error. We develop new age estimates for the marine terraces of North Canterbury and propose correlations between sites. This terrace chronology differs significantly from most previous studies, highlighting the importance of numerical dating. The most extensive terraces are from marine isotope stages (MISs) 5a and 5c, with partial reoccupation of one terrace during MIS 3, whereas MIS 5e terraces are notably lacking among those dated.
Tephra-fall deposits from Cook Inlet volcanoes were detected in sediment cores from Tustumena and Paradox Lakes, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, using magnetic susceptibility and petrography. The ages of tephra layers were estimated using 21 14C ages on macrofossils. Tephras layers are typically fine, gray ash, 1–5 mm thick, and composed of varying proportions of glass shards, pumice, and glass-coated phenocrysts. Of the two lakes, Paradox Lake contained a higher frequency of tephra (0.8 tephra/100 yr; 109 over the 13,200-yr record). The unusually large number of tephra in this lake relative to others previously studied in the area is attributed to the lake's physiography, sedimentology, and limnology. The frequency of ash fall was not constant through the Holocene. In Paradox Lake, tephra layers are absent between ca. 800–2200, 3800–4800, and 9000–10,300 cal yr BP, despite continuously layered lacustrine sediment. In contrast, between 5000 and 9000 cal yr BP, an average of 1.7 tephra layers are present per 100 yr. The peak period of tephra fall (7000–9000 cal yr BP; 2.6 tephra/100 yr) in Paradox Lake is consistent with the increase in volcanism between 7000 and 9000 yr ago recorded in the Greenland ice cores.
The abundance of sedimentary organic material from two lakes was used to infer past Holocene storminess on Adak Island where frequent storms generate abundant rainfall and extensive cloud cover. Andrew and Heart Lakes are located 10 km apart; their contrasting physical characteristics cause the sedimentary organic matter to respond differently to storms. Their records were synchronized using correlated tephra beds. Sedimentation rates increased between 4.0 and 3.5 ka in both lakes. Over the instrumental period, Andrew Lake biogenic-silica content (BSi) is most strongly correlated with winter sunlight availability, which influences photosynthetic production, and river input, which influences the dilution of BSi by mineral matter. Heart Lake BSi is likely affected by wind-driven remobilization of sediment, as suggested by correlations among BSi, the North Pacific Index, and winter storminess. The results indicate relatively stormy conditions from 9.6 to 4.0 ka, followed by drying between 4.0 and 2.7 ka, with the driest conditions from 2.7 to 1.5 ka. The stormiest period was between AD 500 and 1200, then drying from 1150 to 1500 and more variable until 1850. This record of Holocene storminess fills a major gap at the center of action for North Pacific wintertime climate.
During the middle Pleistocene Nome River glaciation of northwestern Alaska, glaciers covered an area an order of magnitude more extensive than during any subsequent glacial intervals. The age of the Nome River glaciation is constrained by laser-fusion 40Ar/39Ar analyses of basaltic lava that overlies Nome River drift at Minnie Creek, central Seward Peninsula, that average 470,000 ± 190,000 yr (±1σ). Milligram-size subsamples of the lava were dated to identify and eliminate extraneous 40Ar enrichments that rendered the mean of conventional K-Ar dates on larger bulk samples of the same flow too old (700,000 ± 570,000 yr). While the 40Ar/39Ar analyses provide a minimum limiting age for the Nome River glaciation, maximum ages are provided by a provisional K-Ar date on a basaltic lava flow that underlies the Nome River drift at nearby Lave Creek, by paleomagnetic determinations of the drift itself at and near the type locality, and by amino acid epimerization analysis of molluscan fossils from nearshore sediments of the Anvilian marine transgression that underlie Nome River drift on the coastal plain at Nome. Taken together, the new age data indicate that the glaciation took place between 580,000 and 280,000 yr ago. The altitude of the Anvilian deposits suggests that eustatic sea level during the Anvilian transgression rose at least as high as and probably higher than during the last interglacial transgression; by correlation with the marine oxygen-isotope record, the transgression probably dates to stage 11 at 410,000 yr, and the Nome River glaciation is younger still. Analyses of floor altitudes of presumed Nome River cirques indicate that the Nome River regional snowline depression was at least twice that of the maximum late Wisconsin. The cause of the enhanced snowline lowering appears to be related to greater availability of moisture in northwestern Alaska during the middle Pleistocene.
Landward-pointing V-shaped sand ridges several kilometers long are common along the windward margin of the Bahama Islands. Their axes share a northeast–southwest trend. Internally, the ridges contain low-angle oolitic beds with few erosional truncations. Commonly interbedded are tabular, fenestrae-rich beds such as those formed by the sheet flow of water over dry sand. Defined here as “chevron ridges,” these landforms appear to have originated in the rapid remobilization of bank margin ooid bodies by the action of long-period waves from a northeasterly source. Deposits along adjacent coastlines also preserve evidence of the impact of large waves. Reworked eolian sand bodies preserve beach fenestrae and hydraulic scour traces up to +40 m on older ridges. On cliffed coasts, 1000-ton boulders have been thrown well inland, recording the impact of large waves. Amino acid ratios confirm a correlation of the ridges across the archipelago, while stratigraphy, spacing, and cross-cutting relationships indicate emplacement as sea level fell rapidly from the substage 5e maximum at or above +6 m.
Glacial deposits in the southwestern Ahklun Mountains, southwestern Alaska, record two major glacier advances during the late Pleistocene. The Arolik Lake and Klak Creek glaciations took place during the early and late Wisconsin, respectively. During the Arolik Lake glaciation, outlet glaciers emanated from an ice cap centered over the central portion of the Ahklun Mountains and expanded beyond the present coast. During the Klak Creek glaciation, ice-cap outlet glaciers terminated ∼60 km upvalley from Arolik Lake moraines. The area also supported numerous alpine glaciers that expanded from small massifs. During both episodes of glaciation, these alpine glaciers apparently reached their maximum positions sometime after the retreat of the ice-cap outlet glaciers. Equilibrium-line altitudes for reconstructed alpine glaciers of the Klak Creek glaciation average ∼390 ± 100 m elevation in the western Ahklun Mountains, which is at most 500 m, and possibly only 200 m, below the estimated modern equilibrium-line altitude. The maximum late Pleistocene advance in the southwestern Ahklun Mountains occurred during the early Wisconsin, similar to advances elsewhere in western Alaska, but in contrast to the isotopic signal in the deep-sea record of global ice volume. The restricted extent of Klak Creek glaciers might reflect the increased distance to the Bering Sea resulting from eustatic sea-level regression and decreased evaporation resulting from lower sea-surface temperatures and increased sea-ice extent.
The surficial geology of the tectonically stable Bahamian archipelago preserves one of the most complete records of middle to late Quaternary sea-level-highstand cycles in the world. However, with the exception of deposits from marine isotope substage (MIS) 5e, fossil corals for radiometric dating of this rich stratigraphic sequence are rare. This study utilizes the previously published, independent lithostratigraphic framework as a testing ground for amino acid racemization in whole-rock limestone samples. At least six limestone–soil couplets provide a relative age sequence of events that encompass as many interglacial–glacial cycles. D-Alloisoleucine/L-isoleucine data fall into six clusters, or “aminozones.” On the basis of independent dating and the inferred correlation with global MIS, the ages of several aminozones are known, while the ages of others are calculated from calibrated amino acid geochronology. This study demonstrates the utility of the whole-rock aminostratigraphy method for dating and correlating widespread emergent marine deposits, constitutes the first regional geochronological framework for the Bahamas, and highlights major sea-level events over the past half million years.
To evaluate the potential of using surficial shell accumulations for paleoenvironmental studies, an extensive time series of individually dated specimens of the marine infaunal bivalve mollusk Semele casali was assembled using amino acid racemization (AAR) ratios (n = 270) calibrated against radiocarbon ages (n = 32). The shells were collected from surface sediments at multiple sites across a sediment-starved shelf in the shallow sub-tropical São Paulo Bight (São Paulo State, Brazil). The resulting 14C-calibrated AAR time series, one of the largest AAR datasets compiled to date, ranges from modern to 10,307 cal yr BP, is right skewed, and represents a remarkably complete time series: the completeness of the Holocene record is 66% at 250-yr binning resolution and 81% at 500-yr binning resolution. Extensive time-averaging is observed for all sites across the sampled bathymetric range indicating long water depth-invariant survival of carbonate shells at the sediment surface with low net sedimentation rates. Benthic organisms collected from active depositional surfaces can provide multi-millennial time series of biomineral records and serve as a source of geochemical proxy data for reconstructing environmental and climatic trends throughout the Holocene at centennial resolution. Surface sediments can contain time-rich shell accumulations that record the entire Holocene, not just the present.
An 18-m-high coastal bluff at Togiak Bay (northwestern Bristol Bay, southwestern Alaska) exposes marine, lacustrine, fluvial, glacial, volcanic, and organic deposits that record the ∼50,000-year-long transition from the peak of the last interglaciation to the early Wisconsin glaciation. The base of the section is dominated by stratified sand and silt extending up to 4.3 m above sea level; marine diatoms are present, and pollen assemblages are characterized by relatively high percentages of Picea, Alnus, and Betula and low percentages of Poaceae and Cyperaceae. The marine sediment was probably deposited during the peak of marine oxygen-isotope stage (OIS) 5e. An infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) age of 151,000±13,000 yr from near the base of the exposure is permissive of this correlation. The marine sand and silt are overlain by 0.8 m of peaty silt with diatoms that record a transition from marine to lacustrine conditions. During this interval, Poaceae and Cyperaceae dominate the pollen assemblages, and Picea and shrubs are nearly absent, suggesting that herb tundra occupied the landscape. This interval probably encompasses OIS 5d on the basis of the herb tundra and an IRSL age of 119,000±10,000 yr from 60 cm below the marine/lacustrine transition. The organic mud is overlain by 3.1 m of stratified sand and organic silt that apparently record shallowing of the lake; reappearance of spruce and shrubs (=OIS 5c?); and subsequent deepening of the lake (=OIS 5b?); followed by aggradation of a floodplain (=OIS 5a?), which was dry at the time basaltic lava buried the site. Thermoluminescence analyses on lava-baked sediment indicate that the eruption occurred 70,000±10,000 yr ago. Sometime thereafter, but prior to 53,600 14C yr B.P. an outlet of the Ahklun Mountains ice cap advanced over the site and deposited ∼7 m of bouldery ice-contact drift. The sedimentary sequence contains at least four tephra beds. Major- and trace-element chemistry provide a basis for correlating two of the tephras with tephra beds at nearby sites. The tephras, luminescence ages, and correlations with marine isotope stages provide the geochronological control to place the Togiak Bay section into a global context. The site serves as an important new reference section for late Pleistocene paleoenvironmental change in eastern Beringia.
Luminescence geochronology, especially infrared stimulated luminescence analyses on marsh mud, shows that a relatively deep lake reached its peak (∼1340 m above sea level) in the Bonneville basin 59,000±5000 yr ago. The age is consistent with nonfinite 14C ages and with amino acid geochronology on ostracodes. The Cutler Dam Alloformation was deposited during this lake cycle, which, like the subsequent Bonneville lake cycle, appears to have reached its maximum highstand following the peak of a global glacial stage (marine oxygen-isotope stage 4) but at a time when other records from North America show evidence for cold climate and expanded glacier ice.
Physical and biological characteristics of lacustrine sediment from Emerald Lake were used to reconstruct the Holocene glacier history of Grewingk Glacier, southern Alaska. Emerald Lake is an ice-marginal threshold lake, receiving glaciofluvial sediment when Grewingk Glacier overtops the topographic divide that separates it from the lake. Sub-bottom acoustical profiles were used to locate core sites to maximize both the length and resolution of the sedimentary sequence recovered in the 4-m-long cores. The age model for the composite sequence is based on 13 14C ages and a 210Pb profile. A sharp transition from the basal inorganic mud to organic-rich mud at 11.4 ± 0.2 ka marks the initial retreat of Grewingk Glacier below the divide of Emerald Lake. The overlaying organic-rich mud is interrupted by stony mud that records a re-advance between 10.7 ± 0.2 and 9.8 ± 0.2 ka. The glacier did not spill meltwater into the lake again until the Little Ice Age, consistent with previously documented Little Ice Ages advances on the Kenai Peninsula. The retreat of Grewingk Glacier at 11.4 ka took place as temperature increased following the Younger Dryas, and the subsequent re-advance corresponds with a climate reversal beginning around 11 ka across southern Alaska.
One of the most intriguing episodes in the Quaternary evolution of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, Arizona, was the development of vast lakes that are thought to have backed up behind lava erupted into the gorge. Stratigraphic evidence for these deep lava-dammed lakes is expectedly sparse. Possible lacustrine deposits at six areas in the eastern canyon yielded no compelling evidence for sediment deposited in a deep lake. At two of the sites the sediment was associated with late Quaternary spring-fed pools and marshes. Water-lain silt and sand at lower Havasu Creek was deposited ∼3000 cal yr ago. The deposit contains an ostracode assemblage similar to that living in the modern travertine-dammed pools adjacent to the outcrop. The second deposit, at Lees Ferry, formed in a spring-fed marsh ∼43,000 cal yr ago, as determined by 14C and amino acid geochronology. It contains abundant ostracode and mollusk fossils, the richest assemblages reported from the Grand Canyon to date. Our interpretation of these sediments as spring-fed deposits, and their relative youth, provides an alternative to the conventional view that deposits like these were formed in deep lava-dammed lakes that filled the Grand Canyon.
Initial interpretation of the sediments from the Burmester core (Eardley et al. (1973). Geological Society of America Bulletin 84, 211–216) indicated that 17 deep-lake cycles, separated by shallow-lake and soil-forming intervals, occurred in the Bonneville basin during the Brunhes Chron (the last 780 × 103 yr). Our re-examination of the core, along with new sedimentological, geochronological, and paleontological data, indicate that only four deep-lake cycles occurred during this period, apparently correlative with marine oxygen-isotope stages 2, 6, 12, and 16. This interpretation suggests that large lakes formed in the Bonneville basin only during the most extensive of the Northern Hemisphere glaciations.