Fish Lake, Utah – a promising long core site straddling the Great Basin to Colorado Plateau transition zone
Monday, 14 December 2015: 12:05
2012 (Moscone West)
Fish Lake (~7x1.5 km and 2696 m asl) is located on the Fish Lake Plateau in central Utah. The Lake occupies a NE-striking tectonic graben; one of a suite of grabens on the Plateau that cut 21-26 Ma volcanic rocks. The lake outflows via Lake Creek to the NE where it joins Sevenmile Creek to become the Fremont River, a tributary to the Colorado River. A bathymetric survey reveals a mean depth of 27 m and a max depth of 37.2 m. The lake bottom slopes from NW to SE with the deepest part near the SE wall, matching the topographic expression of the graben. Nearby Fish Lake Hightop (3545 m) was glaciated with an ice field and outlet glaciers. Exposure ages indicate moraine deposition during Pinedale (15-23 ka) and Bull Lake (130-150 ka) times. One outlet glacier at Pelican Canyon deposited moraines and outwash into the lake but the main basin of the lake was never glaciated. Gravity measurements indicate that lake sediments thicken toward the SE side of the lake and the thickest sediment package is modeled to be between 210 and 240 m. In Feb 2014 we collected cores from Fish Lake using a 9-cm diameter UWITECH coring system in 30.5 m of water. A composite 11.2-m-long core was constructed from overlapping 2 m drives that were taken in triplicate to ensure total recovery and good preservation. Twelve 14C ages and 3 tephra layers of known age define the age model. The oldest 14C age of 32.3±4.2 cal ka BP was taken from 10.6 m. Core lithology, CT scans, and magnetic susceptibility (ms) reveal three sediment packages: an organic-rich, low ms Holocene to post-glacial section, a fine-grained, minerogenic glacial section with high ms, and a short section of inferred pre-LGM sediment with intermediate composition. Extrapolating the age model to the maximum estimated sediment thicknesses suggest sediments may be older than 500-700 ka. Thus Fish Lake is an ideal candidate for long core retrieval as it likely contains paleoclimatic records extending over multiple glacial cycles.