Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 101–130

Deciphering some unique paleotemperature indicators in halite-bearing saline lake deposits from Death Valley, California, USA

  • Sheila M. Roberts
  • Ronald J. Spencer
  • Wenbo Yang
  • H. Roy Krouse
Article

DOI: 10.1023/A:1007977414600

Cite this article as:
Roberts, S.M., Spencer, R.J., Yang, W. et al. Journal of Paleolimnology (1997) 17: 101. doi:10.1023/A:1007977414600

Abstract

Saline lake deposits are arguably the best source of mid- to low-latitude terrestrial paleoclimate data. Alternating clastic sediments and evaporites of different chemical composition have long been recognized as sensitive records of changes in inflow and aridity related to a variety of climate parameters. Several sources of paleotemperature information from a halite-bearing saline lake deposit are described here – pseudomorphs of a cold-temperature evaporite mineral, homogenization temperatures of fluid inclusions in halite, and stable-isotope compositions of fluid inclusions in halite. Examples of these paleoclimate data come from analysis of the lower half of a 185-m core drilled in Pleistocene saline lake deposits at Death Valley, California. Daily and seasonal temperature variations in saline lake waters create conditions for the appearance and disappearance of temperature-dependent mineral phases. In the Death Valley core, hexagonal-shaped halite crystals, probable pseudomorphs of the cold-temperature hydrous mineral, hydrohalite (NaCl•2H2O), provide evidence of brine temperatures below about 0 °C. Homogenization temperatures of fluid inclusions in primary halite offer an actual (not proxy) record of surface-brine temperatures. Samples with primary fluid-inclusion textures are carefully selected and handled, and data are collected from single-phase aqueous-brine inclusions chilled to nucleate vapor bubbles. Temperature variations are observable at scales of individual halite crystals (hours to days), single halite beds (weeks to months or years), and multiples of beds to entire facies (hundreds to tens of thousands of years). A δ18O/δD stable isotope record from the minute quantities of brines in fluid inclusions in halite is accessible using a method recently developed at the University of Calgary. The stable isotope record from the Death Valley core, a complex response to climate variables including temperature, humidity, storm patterns or seasons, and inflow sources, compliments and expands the interpretation emerging from the stratigraphy and homogenization temperatures.

saline lake deposits paleoclimate paleotemperature hydrohalite halite fluidinclusions stable isotopes 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheila M. Roberts
    • 1
  • Ronald J. Spencer
    • 1
  • Wenbo Yang
    • 2
  • H. Roy Krouse
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesWestern Montana College of the University of MontanaDillonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geology and GeophysicsCanada
  3. 3.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada