A Long Pleistocene Paleoclimate Record from Stoneman Lake, Arizona
Abstract:Long continuous lake sediment cores provide enormous potential for interpreting climate change. In the American Southwest, long records are revolutionizing our understanding of megadroughts, which have occurred in the past and will most certainly occur in the future with rapidly changing climate.
One site with the potential to study ancient megadroughts is Stoneman Lake, central Arizona, whose basin is a circular depression formed by a collapse in late Tertiary volcanics. The lake is spring fed, most recently alternating between a marsh and a lake, with water levels having fluctuated by > 3 meters over the last 25 years. Its small closed drainage basin (ca. 2.5 km2) with one small inflowing stream is key to the sensitivity of the record.
Two parallel lacustrine sediment cores (70 m and 30 m deep) were recovered in October of 2014. Our preliminary chronology includes 8 AMS dates in the upper 7 m and two distinct tephras at 30.8 m depth and 36.3 m depth. Radiocarbon dates show a 2.7-m-thick Holocene section, and then a low Pleistocene SAR with an age of 11,000 cal yr B.P. at ~2.8 m to an age of 46,500 cal yr B.P. at 4.2 m depth. We estimate that the 70-m deep hole will provide a climate record back to ~1.3 million years ago. Of particular interest are the interglacials that serve as good analogs for future climate including MIS 11 and MIS 19.
Initial core description includes MS, bulk density and high-resolution images. Holocene sediments are characterized by massive, dark organic rich silty clays with no distinct lamination. Sediments from the Last Glacial Maximum are well-laminated, light brown silty clays with few organics present. The distinctive laminations probably represent a very deep lake and therefore a wet cold climate, also verified by pollen data. There are several repeated intervals of laminated sediments deeper in the core that may represent older glacial maxima.
Future work will include detailed pollen, plant macrofossil and charcoal analysis, scanning XRF, TOC and carbon isotopic analyses as well as compound specific carbon and hydrogen work.