Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 115–126 | Cite as

Timing of the last highstand of Lake Lahontan

  • L. V. Benson


Radiocarbon and uranium-series ages of a variety of materials from the Lahontan basin indicate that the last highstand lake occurred between 14 500 and 13 000 yr B.P. Although few in number, existing radiocarbon and uranium-series age data also indicate that lakes in the western Lahontan subbasins were small or moderate in size between 30 000 and 25 000 yr B.P. Existing data do not support the conclusions of Bradbury et al. (1989) who did not find evidence of a 14 000±yr B.P. highstand lake in the sediments of the Walker Lake subbasin. These data also do not support the existence of a highstand lake in the Walker Lake subbasin between 30 000 and 25 000 yr B.P.

Key words

Lake Lahontan lake-level change climate change paleolimnology paleohydrology 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Benson, L. V., 1978. Fluctuation in the level of pluvial Lake Lahontan during the last 40 000 years. Quat. Res. 9: 300–318.Google Scholar
  2. Benson, L. V., 1981. Paleoclimatic significance of lake-level fluctuations in the Lahontan Basin. Quat. Res. 16: 390–403.Google Scholar
  3. Benson, L. V., 1988. Preliminary paleolimnologic data for the Walker Lake subbasin, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigation Report 87-4258, 50 pp.Google Scholar
  4. Benson, L. V., 1989. Guidebook for a field tour of the Lake Lahontan basin. In G. I. Smith (ed.), Quaternary geology of the Great Basin, IGC Trip Guidebook T 117: 38–55.Google Scholar
  5. Benson, L. V. & R. S. Thompson, 1987a. Lake-level variation in the Lahontan Basin for the past 50 000 years. Quat. Res. 28: 69–85.Google Scholar
  6. Benson, L. V. & R. S. Thompson, 1987b. The physical record of lakes in the Great Basin. In W. F. Ruddiman & H. E. WrightJr. (eds.), North America and adjacent oceans during the last deglaciation, vol. K-3, Geol. Soc. Am., Boulder, Colo., The Geology of North America: 241–260.Google Scholar
  7. Benson, L. V., D. R. Currey, R. I. Dorn, K. R. Lajoie, C. G. Oviatt, S. W. Robinson, G. I. Smith & S. Stine, 1990. Chronology of expansion and contraction of four Great Basin lake systems during the past 35 000 years. In P. A. Meyers & L. V. Benson (eds.), Paleolakes and Paleooceans. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclim. Palaeoecol. 78: 241–286.Google Scholar
  8. Bradbury, J. P., R. M. Forester & R. S. Thompson, 1989. Late Quaternary paleolimnology of Walker Lake, Nevada. J. Paleolim. 1: 249–267.Google Scholar
  9. Broecker, W. S. & P. C. Orr, 1958. Radiocarbon chronology of Lake Lahontan and Lake Bonneville. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 69: 1009–1032.Google Scholar
  10. Cahill, T. A. & T. E. Gill, 1987. Air quality at Mono Lake. Report to the Community and Organization Research Institute, Univ. of Calif., Santa Barbara, Calif., 346 pp.Google Scholar
  11. Dansie, A. J., Davis, J. O. & T. W. Stafford, Jr., 1988. The Wizard's Beach recession: Farmdalian (25 500) yr B.P. vertebrate fossils co-occur with early Holocene artifacts. In J. A. Willig, C. M. Aikens & J. L. Fagan (eds.), Early human occupation in far western North America: the Clovis-Archaic interface. Nev. State Museum Anthropo. Papers 21: 153–200.Google Scholar
  12. Dorn, R. I., A. J. T. Jull, D. J. Donahue, T. W. Linick & L. J. Toolin, 1990. Latest Pleistocence lake shorelines and glacial chronology in the western Great Basin and Range Province, USA; Insights from AMS radiocarbon dating of rock varnish and paleoclimatic implications. In P. A. Meyers & L. V. Benson (eds.), Paleolakes and Paleooceans. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim. Palaeoecol. 78: 315–332.Google Scholar
  13. Hostetler, S. & L. V. Benson, 1990. Paleoclimatic implications of highstand Lake Lahontan derived from models of evaporation and lake level. Climate Dynamics 4: 207–217.Google Scholar
  14. Lao, Y. & L. V. Benson, 1988. Uranium-series age estimates and paleoclimatic significance of Pleistocene tufas from the Lahontan basin, California and Nevada. Quat. Res. 30: 165–176.Google Scholar
  15. Milne, W., 1987. A comparison of reconstructed lake-level records since the mid-1800's of some Great Basin lakes. M.S. Thesis, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colo.: 207 pp.Google Scholar
  16. Shearman, D. J. & A. J. Smith, 1985. Ikaite, the parent mineral of jarrowite-type pseudomorphs. Proc. Geol. Assoc., 96: 305–314.Google Scholar
  17. Stumm, W. & J. J. Morgan, 1981. Aquatic Chemistry. J. Wiley & Sons, N.Y., 780 pp.Google Scholar
  18. Thompson, R. S., L. V. Benson & E. M. Hattori, 1986. A revised chronology for the last Pleistocene lake cycle in the central Lahontan basin. Quat. Res. 25: 1–9.Google Scholar
  19. Thompson, R. S., L. J. Toolin & R. M. Forester, 1990. Accelerator-mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon dating of Pleistocene lake sediments in the Great Basin. In P. A. Meyers & L. V. Benson (eds.), Paleolakes and Paleooceans. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclim. Palaeoecol. 78: 301–314.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. V. Benson
    • 1
  1. 1.U. S. Geological Survey, Stationed at the Interdisciplinary Climate Systems GroupNational Center of Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations