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Variations in late Quaternary wind intensity from grain-size partitioning of loess deposits in the Nenana River Valley, Alaska

  • Lyndsay M. DiPietro (a1), Steven G. Driese (a1), Tyler W. Nelson (a2) and Jane L. Harvill (a2)

A high-resolution column of 57 loess samples was collected from the Dry Creek archaeological site in the Nenana River Valley in central Alaska. Numerical grain-size partitioning using a mixed Weibull function was performed on grain-size distributions to obtain a reconstructed record of wind intensity over the last ~15,000 yr. Two grain-size components were identified, one with a mode in the coarse silt range (C1) and the other ranging from medium to very coarse sand (C2). C1 dominates most samples and records regional northerly winds carrying sediment from the Nenana River. These winds were strong during cold intervals, namely, the Carlo Creek glacial readvance (14.2–14 ka), a late Holocene Neoglacial period (4.2–2.7 ka), and recent glacier expansion; weak during the Allerød (14–13.3 ka) and Younger Dryas (12.9–11.7 ka); and variable during the Holocene thermal maximum (11.4–9.4 ka). Deposition of C2 was episodic and represents locally derived sand deposited by southerly katabatic winds from the Alaska Range. These katabatic winds occurred mainly prior to 12 ka and after 4 ka. This study shows that numerical grain-size partitioning is a powerful tool for reconstructing paleoclimate and that it can be successfully applied to Alaskan loess.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author at: Department of Geosciences, Baylor University, One Bear Place #97354, Waco, Texas 76798-7354, USA. E-mail address: (L.M. DiPietro).
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