Late-Glacial to Holocene Hydroclimatic Change in the Mojave Desert: Silver Lake, CA

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Matthew E Kirby1, Edward J Knell1, William Thomas Anderson Jr2, Matthew S Lachniet3, Holly Eeg1, Ricardo Lucero1, Rosa Murrieta1, Andrea Arevalo1, Emily Silveira1, Christine Hiner1 and Jennifer Ann Palermo1, (1)California State University Fullerton, Fullerton, CA, United States, (2)Florida International University, Miami, FL, United States, (3)UNLV-Geosciences, Las Vegas, NV, United States
Silver Lake is the modern terminal playa of the Mojave River. As a result, it is well located to record both influences from the winter precipitation dominated San Bernardino Mountains – the source of the Mojave River – as well as the late-summer to early-fall North American monsoon. Here, we present various physical and geochemical data from a new 8.2 m sediment core taken from Silver Lake, CA that spans modern through 14.8 kcal yrs BP. Age control is based on six bulk organic C radiocarbon dates processed with Bacon v2.2 to generate an age model. Texturally, the core varies between a silty clay and a silty sand, often with abrupt sedimentological transitions. Our working hypothesis states that high percent clay values indicate persistent standing water wherein the deposition, accumulation, and preservation of fine grain sediment exceeds some undefined thickness that inhibits deflation during succeeding desiccation events or ephemeral lake environments. Based on this clay – lake status hypothesis, the sediment core is divided into five lake status intervals. Clay values are highest between 14.4 – 13.5 kcal yrs BP, coeval to Lake Mojave II. Clay values decrease abruptly at 13.5 kcal yrs BP (encapsulating the Younger Dryas) indicating a return to an ephemeral lake. At 11.3 kcal yrs BP, clay values rise abruptly indicating a return to a perennial lake; this early Holocene pluvial ended abruptly at 7.8 kcal yrs BP. From 7.8 – 4.2 kcal yrs BP, clay is low, but variable and mudcracks are common. At 4.2 kcal yrs BP, clay values increase but only moderately indicating a return to more frequent sustained perennial lakes. The early Holocene pluvial is likely a result of higher summer insolation, which generated a more intense and spatially expansive North American monsoon. Coupled with lower winter insolation and thus more winter storms across the region, Silver Lake flourished. A comparison to stable carbon isotope data from Leviathan Cave (NV), support our interpretation as indicated by more productive soils (i.e., wetter) (Lachniet et al., 2014). The resurgence of a wet Mojave ca. 4.2 kcal yrs BP is also supported by the NV cave data. We attribute this late Holocene pluvial to the strengthening of El Niño.