Bear Lake, in northeastern Utah and southern Idaho, lies in a large valley formed by an active half-graben. Bear River, the largest river in the Great Basin, enters Bear Lake Valley ???15 km north of the lake. Two 4-m-long cores provide a lake sediment record extending back ???26 cal k.y. The penetrated section can be divided into a lower unit composed of quartz-rich clastic sediments and an upper unit composed largely of endogenic carbonate. Data from modern fluvial sediments provide the basis for interpreting changes in provenance of detrital material in the lake cores. Sediments from small streams draining elevated topography on the east and west sides of the lake are characterized by abundant dolomite, high magnetic susceptibility (MS) related to eolian magnetite, and low values of hard isothermal remanent magnetization (HIRM, indicative of hematite content). In contrast, sediments from the headwaters of the Bear River in the Uinta Mountains lack carbonate and have high HIRM and low MS. Sediments from lower reaches of the Bear River contain calcite but little dolomite and have low values of MS and HIRM. These contrasts in catchment properties allow interpretation of the following sequence from variations in properties of the lake sediment: (1) ca. 26 cal ka-onset of glaciation; (2) ca. 26-20 cal ka-quasicyclical, millennial-scale variations in the concentrations of hematite-rich glacial fl our derived from the Uinta Mountains, and dolomite- and magnetite-rich material derived from the local Bear Lake catchment (reflecting variations in glacial extent); (3) ca. 20-19 cal ka-maximum content of glacial fl our; (4) ca. 19-17 cal ka-constant content of Bear River sediment but declining content of glacial fl our from the Uinta Mountains; (5) ca. 17-15.5 cal ka-decline in Bear River sediment and increase in content of sediment from the local catchment; and (6) ca. 15.5-14.5 cal ka-increase in content of endogenic calcite at the expense of detrital material. The onset of glaciation indicated in the Bear Lake record postdates the initial rise of Lake Bonneville and roughly corresponds to the Stansbury shoreline. The lake record indicates that maximum glaciation occurred as Lake Bonneville reached its maximum extent ca. 20 cal ka and that deglaciation was under way while Lake Bonneville remained at its peak. The transition from siliciclastic to carbonate sedimentation probably indicates increasingly evaporative conditions and may coincide with the climatically driven fall of Lake Bonneville from the Provo shoreline. Although lake levels fluctuated during the Younger Dryas, the Bear Lake record for this period is more consistent with drier conditions, rather than cooler, moister conditions interpreted from many studies from western North America. Copyright ?? 2009 The Geological Society of America.
Additional Publication Details
The glacial/deglacial history of sedimentation in Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho
Special Paper of the Geological Society of America