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Stable Isotopic Evidence for Latest Pleistocene and Holocene Climatic Change in North-Central Texas

  • John D. Humphrey (a1) and C. Reid Ferring (a2)

A paleoclimatic record for a southern Great Plains locality (the Aubrey Clovis site in north-central Texas) has been established using stable carbon and oxygen isotopes. Detailed composite stratigraphic sections, constrained by 14 C ages, place the age of these deposits between 14,200 and 1600 yr B.P. Calcium carbonate samples of lacustrine and pedogenic origin were analyzed. Oxygen isotopic compositions of most of these in situ carbonates reflect equilibrium precipitation from local meteoric waters. Oxygen isotope values reflect changes in the composition of meteoric waters tied to changes in the isotopic composition of moisture derived from the Gulf of Mexico. Oxygen isotopic variability at the Aubrey site is coincident with marine isotopic records from the gulf that vary due to changes in Laurentide ice sheet volume and meltwater influx. The stable carbon isotopic record, reflecting changing biomass through time, corroborates humid versus arid interpretations based on sedimentology and rates of alluviation. A middle Holocene arid period was in contrast to moist early and late Holocene climate, affirming interpretations of other workers studying southern Great Plains Holocene climate history.

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