Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Climate Variability in East-Central California during the Past 1000 Years Reflected by High-Resolution Geochemical and Isotopic Records from Owens Lake Sediments

  • Hong-Chun Li (a1), James L. Bischoff (a2), Teh-Lung Ku (a1), Steven P. Lund (a1) and Lowell D. Stott (a1)...

Core OL-97A, retrieved from the depocenter of Owens Lake, represents a depositional history spanning the past 1000 yr. Among the 17 elements analyzed in the acid-leachable fractions of 315 salt-free samples (at ∼3 yr/sample), Mg and Li, which come chiefly from authigenic Mg-hydroxy-silicates, were found to have concentration variations reflecting lake salinity and climatic changes during the past. A total of 231 isotopic measurements on carbonates from the same samples in the upper 181 cm show that δ18O and δ13C values range from −5.66 to 0.12‰ (PDB) and 1.38 to 4.28‰ (PDB), respectively. The rate of change with time in δ18O records the rate of change in lake's volume due to climate fluctuations, whereas variations in δ13C reflect mainly variations in biological productivity, nutrient supply, and dissolved carbonate in the lake. Results indicate an effectively dry climate between A.D. 950 and 1220, corresponding to the Medieval Climatic Anomaly (a warm period in northern Europe), during which Owens Lake approached playa conditions. Wet climates prevailed during A.D. 1220–1480, producing relatively large and deep lakes. Beginning about A.D. 1550, the regional climate turned colder but had frequently oscillating precipitation. Six wet/dry cycles with ∼50-yr duration occurred between A.D. 1480 and 1760, during the later half of which Owens Lake became a playa. Since ∼A.D. 1880, the lake level has steadily dropped from its historic high stand under strong impact of human activity.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

L.V. Benson , J.W. Burdett , M. Kashgarian , S.P. Lund , F.M. Phillips , R.O. Rye (1996). Climatic and hydrologic oscillations in the Owens Lake basin and adjacent Sierra Nevada, California. Science, 274, 746748.

J.L. Bischoff , K.M. Menking , J.P. Fitts , J.A. Fitzpatrick (1997). Climatic oscillations 10,000–155,000 yr B.P. at Owens Lake, California reflected in glacial rock flour abundance and lake salinity in core OL-92. Quaternary Research, 48, 313325.

K.R. Briffa , P.D. Jones , T.S. Bartholin , D. Eckstein , F.H. Schweingruber , W. Karlen , P. Zetterberg , M. Eronen (1992). Fennoscandian summers from A.D. 500: Temperature changes on short and long timescales. Climate Dynamics, 7, 111119.

M.R. Frogley , P.C. Tzedakis , T.H.E. Heaton (1999). Climate variability in Northwest Greece during the last interglacial. Science, 285, 18861889.

F. Gasse , J.Ch. Fontes , E. Van Campo , K. Wei (1996). Holocene environmental changes in Bangong Co basin (Western Tibet). Part 4. Discussion and conclusions. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 120, 7992.

L.J. Graumlich (1993). A 1000-year record of temperature and precipitation in the Sierra Nevada. Quaternary Research, 39, 249255.

J.M. Grove (1988). The Little Ice Age. Methuem, London, New York.

V.C. LaMarche Jr.(1974). Paleoclimatic inferences from long tree-ring records. Science, 183, 10431048.

H.-C. Li , T.-L. Ku (1997). δ13C–δ18O covariance as a paleohydrological indicator for closed-basin lakes. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 133, 6980.

H.-C. Li , T.-L. Ku , L.D. Stott , R.F. Anderson (1997). Stable isotope studies on Mono Lake (California)—I: δ18O in lake sediments as proxy for climatic change during the last 150 years. Limnology and Oceanography, 42, 230238.

G.S. Lister , K. Kelts , K.-Z. Chen , J.-Q. Yu , F. Niessen (1991). Lake Qinghai, China: Closed-basin lake levels and the oxygen isotope record for ostracoda since the latest Pleistocene. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 84, 141162.

S.P. Lund (1996). A comparison of Holocene paleomagnetic secular variation records from North America. Journal of Geophysical Research, 101, 80078024.

T.C. Johnson , J.D. Halfman , W.J. Showers (1991). Paleoclimate of the past 4000 years as Lake Turkana, Kenya, based on the isotopic composition of authigenic calcite. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 85, 189198.

K.M. Menking , J.L. Bischoff , J.A. Fitzpatrick , J.W. Burdette , R.O. Rye (1997). Climate/hydrologic oscillations since 155,000 yr B.P. at Owens Lake, California, reflected in abundance and stable isotope composition of sediment carbonate. Quaternary Research, 48, 5868.

T.-H. Peng , W.S. Broecker (1980). Gas exchange rates for three closed-basin lakes. Limnology and Oceanography, 25, 789796.

R.D. Ricketts , R.F. Anderson (1998). A direct comparison between the historical record of lake level and the δ18O signal in carbonate sediments from Lake Turkana, Kenya. Limnology and Oceanography, 43, 811822.

S. Stine (1990). Late Holocene fluctuation of Mono Lake, eastern California. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 78, 333381.

S. Stine (1994). Extreme and persistent drought in California and Patagonia during mediaeval time. Nature, 369, 546549.

M. Stuiver , P.J. Reimer , T.F. Braziunas (1998). High-precision calibration for terrestrial and marine samples. Radiocarbon, 40, 11271152.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Abstract views

Total abstract views: 17 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 23rd June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.