Paleomonsoonal Precipitation and Hydroclimate Variability from Glacial to Interglacial Climates in the Southwest: The Stoneman Lake, Arizona Record
Abstract:Oxygen isotope values from diatom silica have been used to determine past hydrological conditions in a variety of settings including differentiating summer monsoonal paleoprecipitation from winter frontal paleoprecipitation in the American southwest. Lacustrine cores from the Valles Caldera, New Mexico, show a distinct change in silica oxygen isotope values from glacial to interglacial as a switch from a purely winter frontal precipitation during the glacial to a mix of winter frontal and summer monsoonal precipitation during the interglacial. A relatively large (ca. 20‰) and rapid increase in δ18O following the glacial termination implies an abrupt onset of the North American monsoon. We plan to elaborate on this research to see if this is true elsewhere in the southwest.
Two lacustrine sediment cores (70 m deep and 30 m deep respectively) were recovered from Stoneman Lake, northern Arizona in October of 2014. With these cores we plan to determine regional hydroclimate variability between the Pleistocene-Holocene glacial transition ca. 14 ka. Oxygen isotope analysis from diatom silica will allow us to determine past sources of precipitation to the basin (Gulf of Mexico vs North Pacific), and paleoprecipitation variability. In conjunction with other proxies, we can determine if the onset of paleomonsoonal precipitation in central Arizona occurs immediately after the glacial termination as in NM, or if there is some component of monsoonal precipitation during the late glacial period. Diatom sampling was performed at approximately every 50 cm. To purify the diatoms, the samples are chemically and physically separated. The step wise fluorination and laser ablation technique are then applied to remove water & hydroxyl groups and to extract O2 & SiF4 respectively.
If results from the Stoneman Lake core are similar to that of the Valles Caldera core, we should expect to see a nearly 20‰ increase in δ18Olake water. This would suggest a: 1) collapse of the summer monsoon in this region, 2) southward shift of the southern polar front jet stream, 3) low ratio of evaporation compared to total water outflow from the lake. By collecting data from this lacustrine sediment, we will be able to better reconstruct atmospheric paleocirculation patterns of the southwestern United States.