Siphateles (Gila) sp. and Catostomus sp. from the Pleistocene OIS-6 Lake Gale, Panamint Valley, Owens River system, California

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Angela S Jayko, USGS, GEMGSC, Bishop, CA, United States, Richard M Forester, Earth Surface Processes Team, USGS, retired, Denver, CO, United States and Gerald Ray Smith, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
Panamint Valley lies within the Owens River system which linked southeastern Sierra Nevada basins between Mono Lake and Death Valley during glacial-pluvial times. Previous work indicates that late Pleistocene glacial-pluvial Lake Gale, Panamint Valley was an open system during OIS-6, a closed ground water supported shallow lake during OIS-4, and the terminal lake basin for the Owens River system during OIS-2. We here report the first occurrence of fossil fish from the Plio-Pleistocene Panamint basin. Fish remains are present in late Pleistocene OIS-6 nearshore deposits associated with a highstand that was spillway limited at Wingate Wash. The deposits contain small minnow-sized remains from both Siphateles or Gila sp. (chubs) and Catostomus sp. (suckers) from at least four locations widely dispersed in the basin. Siphateles or Gila sp. and Catostomus are indigenous to the Pleistocene and modern Owens River system, in particular to the historic Owens Lake area. Cyprinodon (pupfish) and Rhinichthys (dace) are known from the modern Amargosa River and from Plio-Pleistocene deposits in Death Valley to the east. The late Pleistocene OIS-6 to OIS-2 lacustrine and paleohydrologic record in Panamint basin is interpreted from ostracod assemblages, relative abundance of Artemia sp. pellets, shallow water indicators including tufa fragments, ruppia sp. fragments and the relative abundance of charophyte gyrogonites obtained from archived core, as well as faunal assemblages from paleoshoreline and nearshore deposits. The OIS-4 groundwater supported shallow saline lake had sufficiently low ratios of alkalinity to calcium (alk/Ca) to support the occurrence of exotic Elphidium sp. (?) foraminfera which are not observed in either OIS-2 or OIS-6 lacustrine deposits. The arrival of Owens River surface water into Panamint Basin during OIS-2 is recorded by the first appearance of the ostracod Limnocythere sappaensis at ~27 m depth in an ~100 m archived core (Smith and Pratt, 1957) which extends between OIS-5 and post OIS-2 based on based on proxy correlation with the marine oxygen isotope record.