Nine distinct paleohydrologic regimes in the southwestern Great Basin over the last 3.2 my are recorded by the lacustrine deposits in KM-3, a 930-m core from Searles Lake, California. These are characterized as being "wet," "intermediate," or "dry" (like today). Excepting the present incomplete regime, each lasted 0.12 to 0.76 my. Major regime changes 0.01, 0.13, 0.6, and 2.5 my ago appear to coincide with recognized changes in global ice-sheet histories as represented by 18O and other records from marine sediments, but comparable changes 0.3, 1.0, 1.3, and 2.0 my ago do not appear to coincide closely with comparable perturbations in ice-sheet histories. However, all regime boundaries (during the last 1.75 my) coincide closely in time with changes in sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, and many coincide with other deep-sea and continental paleoclimatic boundaries.The average duration of these paleohydrologic regimes was about 0.4 my (standard deviation, 0.2 my or less, depending on assumptions), and it is suggested that the regime boundaries reflect times of change in global(?) sea-surface temperatures, possibly controlled in part by the Earth's 413,000-yr orbital eccentricity cycle. During the wettest and driest regimes in the Searles Lake area, lake levels were not sufficiently affected by the 23,000-, to 42,000-, or 100,000-yr climate cycles related to high-latitude ice-sheet fluctuations to produce changes in the lacustrine sediment character. During intermediate regimes, however, when lacustrine sedimentation in this area was more sensitive to climate, the sediments, in KM-3, record lake fluctuations with average frequencies near those of the ice sheets. This seems to indicate that the high-latitude ice-sheet fluctuations caused local climatic perturbations but did not dominate the hydrologic component of climate in this area. Other lacustrine deposits in the southwestern Great Basin of California and Nevada have ages comparable in part to those of the wet to intermediate regimes indicated by KM-3, and they may all be products of finite periods when lake expansion, alluvial fan growth, increased spring discharge, and fluvial deposition were promoted in this area by widespread wet climates. Glacier expansion in the Sierra Nevada may also have been primarily an expression of, and in phase with, these wet regimes. ?? 1984.
Additional publication details
Paleohydrologic regimes in the southwestern Great Basin, 0-3.2 my ago, compared with other long records of "gobal" climate