Wisconsin's Central Sand Plain east of the Wisconsin River is composed of eolian sand forming high-relief dunes surrounded by sand sheets and scattered low-relief dunes. To establish a maximum age for dune formation, three samples for optical dating were taken from glacial Lake Wisconsin lacustrine sediment that underlies eolian sand. These age estimates range from 19.3 to 13.6ka. Age estimates taken from within or at the base of the dunes range from 14.0 to 10.6ka. Samples taken from < 2m of the ground surface were slightly younger, indicating dunes were stabilized between 11.8 and 5.5ka. The younger ages near the surface of some dunes were most likely the result of pedoturbation or localized problems with applying the optical dating method. The majority of the optical age estimates from dunes (18 of 21) indicated that most of the dunes were active between 14 and 10ka and that most dune activity ended by 10ka. These ages suggest that localized activity on dune crests may have occurred in the Holocene but would have been limited to < 1m of sand accumulation. The timing of dune activity and the lack of any significant Holocene reactivation suggest that dune activation in this setting cannot be attributed solely to changes in aridity. Instead, we attribute dune formation to changes in sediment availability from either sand inputs from the Wisconsin River or the melting of permafrost. ?? 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Late Pleistocene dune construction in the Central Sand Plain of Wisconsin, USA