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Stable Isotopes in Pocket Gopher Teeth as Evidence of a Late Matuyama Climate Shift in the Southern Rocky Mountains

  • Karel L. Rogers (a1) and Yang Wang (a2)

Previous work in the San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado and northern New Mexico at the Hansen Bluff and SAM Cave localities has allowed reconstruction of the paleoclimate in the region during the interval from ∼0.6 myr to ∼2.6 myr. Surface exposures at Hansen Bluff have been correlated to deep-sea oxygen isotope core stages 18–23 and one of the glacial periods contained therein to the oldest “Nebraskan” till in southwestern Iowa. Deposits in SAM Cave correlate to Hansen Bluff on the basis of paleomagnetics, climate interpretation, and microtine rodent biochronology. In this paper, carbon and oxygen stable isotope data of herbivorous rodent teeth are used as indicators of change in the predominance of C3, C4, and CAM plants and of changes in temperature and precipitation. Taken together with other previously analyzed data from these localities, the evidence indicates a shift in the severity of glacial events that is mainly related to the hydrologic characteristics of the climate. This shift may have been caused by broad regional uplift that may have been instrumental in shifting global climate cycles from the 41,000-yr Matuyama cycles to the Brunhes 100,000-yr-dominated cycles.

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Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
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