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Episodic Late Holocene dune movements on the sand-sheet area, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, San Luis Valley, Colorado, USA

  • S.L. Forman (a1), M. Spaeth (a1), L. Marín (a1), J. Pierson (a1), J. Gómez (a1), F. Bunch (a2) and A. Valdez (a2)...
Abstract

The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (GSDNPP) in the San Luis Valley, Colorado, contains a variety of eolian landforms that reflect Holocene drought variability. The most spectacular is a dune mass banked against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which is fronted by an extensive sand sheet with stabilized parabolic dunes. Stratigraphic exposures of parabolic dunes and associated luminescence dating of quartz grains by single-aliquot regeneration (SAR) protocols indicate eolian deposition of unknown magnitude occurred ca. 1290–940, 715 ± 80, 320 ± 30, and 200–120 yr ago and in the 20th century. There are 11 drought intervals inferred from the tree-ring record in the past 1300 yr at GSDNPP potentially associated with dune movement, though only five eolian depositional events are currently recognized in the stratigraphic record. There is evidence for eolian transport associated with dune movement in the 13th century, which may coincide with the “Great Drought”, a 26-yr-long dry interval identified in the tree ring record, and associated with migration of Anasazi people from the Four Corners areas to wetter areas in southern New Mexico. This nascent chronology indicates that the transport of eolian sand across San Luis Valley was episodic in the late Holocene with appreciable dune migration in the 8th, 10–13th, and 19th centuries, which ultimately nourished the dune mass against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

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Corresponding author
Corresponding author. E-mail address: SLF@uic.edu (S.L. Forman).
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