Wyoming is now at the eastern margin of westerlies originating in the Pacific, but in the Pleistocene appears to have received moisture from elsewhere, possibly the Gulf of Mexico. Oxygen isotope ratios of pedogenic carbonate in postglacial terraces correspond to ratios in equilibrium with present meteoric waters, which show a strong relation to precipitation seasonality and storm sources. In contrast, the oxygen isotope rations of all pre-Holocene soils are significantly more positive, even though the carbon isotope composition of coexisting organic matter suggests that the carbonate formed in temperatures cooler than today. The oxygen isotope rations of paleowaters in mid-North America appear to be more useful for identifying past storm sources than for estimating paleotemperatures.
Additional publication details
Isotopic evidence for shifts in atmospheric circulation patterns during the late Quaternary in mid-North America