Aeolian dust strongly influences ecology and landscape geochemistry over large areas that span several desert ecosystems of the southwestern United States. This study evaluates spatial and temporal variations and trends of the physical and chemical properties of dust in the southwestern United States by examining dust deposited in natural depressions on high isolated surfaces along a transect from the Mojave Desert to the central Colorado Plateau. Aeolian dust is recognized in these depressions on the basis of textural, chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical characteristics and comparisons of those characteristics to the underlying bedrock units. Spatial and temporal trends suggest that although local dust sources are important to the accumulated material in these depressions, Mojave Desert dust sources may also contribute. Depth trends in the depressions suggest that Mojave sources may have contributed more dust to the Colorado Plateau recently than in the past. These interpretations point to the important roles of far-traveled aeolian dust for landscape geochemistry and imply future changes to soil geochemistry under changing conditions in far-distant dust source areas. Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Compositional trends in aeolian dust along a transect across the southwestern United States