, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 125-149

A paleoclimate record for the past 250,000 years from Summer Lake, Oregon, USA. 1. chronology and magnetic proxies for lake level

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Abstract

This study presents the age control and environmental magnetism components of a new, late Pleistocene paleoclimate record for the Great Basin of western North America. Two new cores from the Summer Lake sub-basin of pluvial Lake Chewaucan, Oregon, USA are correlated to basin margin outcrops on the basis of tephrochronology, lithostratigraphy, sediment magnetism and paleomagnetic secular variation. Eleven tephra layers were found in the cores that correlate to tephra identified previously in the outcrop. The Olema ash was also found in one of the cores; its stratigraphic position, relative to 3 dated tephra layers, indicates that its age is 50-55 ka, somewhat younger than has been previously reported. The Summer Lake sediments are divided into deep and shallow lake lithosomes based on sedimentary features. The stratigraphic position of these lithosomes support the tephra-based correlations between the outcrop and the cores. These sediments contain a well resolved record of the Mono Lake Excursion (MLE) and an earlier paleomagnetic excursion as well as a high quality replication of the paleosecular variation immediately above the MLE.

Relative sedimentation rates increased dramatically toward the depocenter during intervals of low-lake level. In contrast, during intervals of high-lake level, relative sedimentation rates were comparable along the basin axis from the basin margin to the depocenter. The magnetic mineralogy of the Summer Lake sediments is dominated by pseudo-single domain (titano)magnetite and intervals of high/low magnetite concentration coincide with lithosomes that indicate high/low lake levels. Magnetic grain size also varies in accord with bulk sediment grain size as indicated by the silt/clay ratio. To a first order, variations in magnetic parameters, especially those attributable to the concentration of magnetic minerals, correlate well with global glacial/interglacial oscillations as indicated by marine oxygen isotope stages. This relationship can be explained by increased dissolution of (titano)magnetite minerals as lake level dropped and the lake became more productive biologically. This inference is supported by a correspondence between lower concentrations of magnetite with higher levels of total organic carbon and vice-versa.