Improved Stratigraphic Interpretation of Dense Lacustrine Carbonates from Lake Bonneville, UT

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 4:45 PM
Elena Steponaitis1, David McGee1 and Jay Quade2, (1)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, United States, (2)University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States
Recent work on the past hydroclimate of the Bonneville Basin has utilized dense, laminated carbonate deposits that formed beneath the surface of Lake Bonneville starting around 26 ka (McGee et al. 2012). These calcite and aragonite deposits form in calm, protected spaces that have been submerged by the lake, including hillside caves, cracks in bedrock, and interstitial spaces in tufa and abandoned beach gravel deposits. Dense lacustrine carbonates are very useful for paleoclimate studies because they can be used to develop continuous records of lake chemistry anchored by precise U-Th dates. However, many questions remain about the conditions in which these dense carbonates form: at what depth range do these carbonates form, and can basal and top ages help constrain the lake level curve? Do coeval carbonates formed at different depths in the lake preserve information about vertical gradients in lake water properties like δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr? To address these questions and others, this study examines a sequence of dense lacustrine carbonates deposited within bedrock, tufa, and abandoned shoreline gravels from Stansbury Island, UT. We use U-Th dating, local stratigraphic interpretations, and previously established lake level constraints to draw insights into the formation and context of these deposits. Improved understanding of dense lacustrine carbonates will facilitate more detailed and accurate interpretations of their stratigraphic significance, and ultimately, aid the development of improved paleoclimate records from Lake Bonneville and beyond.

McGee, D., et al. 2012. Lacustrine Cave Carbonates : Novel Archives of Paleohydrologic Change in the Bonneville Basin (Utah , USA). Earth and Planetary Science Letters (351-352): 182–194.