Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 59–79 | Cite as

Five Younger Dryas black mats in Mexico and their stratigraphic and paleoenvironmental context

  • Isabel Israde-AlcántaraEmail author
  • G. Domínguez-Vázquez
  • S. Gonzalez
  • J. Bischoff
  • A. West
  • D. Huddart
Original paper


The Younger Dryas interval (YD) was a period of widespread, abrupt climate change that occurred between 12,900 and 11,700 cal yr BP (10,900–10,000 14C BP). Many sites in the Northern Hemisphere preserve a sedimentary record across the onset of the YD interval, including sites investigated in sedimentary basins located in central Mexico (Chapala, Cuitzeo, Acambay), the Basin of Mexico (Tocuila), and northern Mexico (El Cedral). Deposits consist of lacustrine or marginal lake sediments that were deposited during the Pleistocene and the Holocene. At the Tocuila and Acambay sites, Pleistocene fossil vertebrate assemblages, mainly mammoths (Mammuthus columbi), are found in association with a distinctive organic layer, sometimes called the black mat that formed during the YD. At the Chapala, Cuitzeo, Acambay, and Tocuila sites the black mats contain a suite of distinctive microscopic and mineralogical signatures and are accompanied by a sharp change in the depositional environments as supported by diatom and pollen studies reported here. The signatures include magnetic, Fe-rich microspherules, silica melted droplets with aerodynamic shapes (tektites), large amounts of charcoal, and sometimes nanodiamonds (Cuitzeo), all of which were deposited at the onset of the YD. The geochemistry of the microspherules indicates that they are not anthropogenic, authigenic or of cosmic or volcanic origin, and instead, were produced by melting and quenching of terrestrial sediments. Here, we present the stratigraphy at five field sites, the analyses of magnetic microspherules, including major element composition and scanning electron microscopy images. All of these materials are associated with charcoal and soot, which are distinctive stratigraphic markers for the YD layer at several sites in Mexico.


Stratigraphy Lacustrine Magnetic microspherules Abrupt change in paleoenvironments Charcoal 



The authors wish to thank the economic support from CONACYT, Mexico, project CB 2015-257647, and the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo CIC 2015, 2016. Authors want to thank to Dr. Hong Chun Li, for the Acambay core dating, Dr. Pedro Zarate for sharing the C 14dating and samples from the base of the Chapala long core, Ricardo Saucedo, José Ramón Torres, of University of San Luis Potosí for the help in field work at El Cedral and Francisco Solorio and Lourdes Mondragón for the SEM analysis at the Instituto de Investigaciones Metalúrgicas y Materiales and Tecnológico de Morelia respectively and the helpful comments of Victor Hugo Garduño, and two referees and the editor that improved this manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias de la TierraUniversidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de HidalgoMoreliaMexico
  2. 2.Faculty of BiologyUniversidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de HidalgoMoreliaMexico
  3. 3.School of Natural Sciences and PsychologyLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  4. 4.GeochemistryUnited States Geological SurveyMenlo ParkUSA
  5. 5.GeoScience ConsultingDeweyUSA

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