Several potential dust sources, including generic sources of sparsely vegetated alluvium, playa deposits, and anthropogenic emissions, as well as the area around Owens Lake, California, affect the composition of modern dust in the southwestern United States. A comparison of geochemical analyses of modern and old (a few thousand years) dust with samples of potential local sources suggests that dusts reflect four primary sources: (1) alluvial sediments (represented by Hf, K, Rb, Zr, and rare-earth elements, (2) playas, most of which produce calcareous dust (Sr, associated with Ca), (3) the area of Owens (dry) Lake, a human-induced playa (As, Ba, Li, Pb, Sb, and Sr), and (4) anthropogenic and/or volcanic emissions (As, Cr, Ni, and Sb). A comparison of dust and source samples with previous analyses shows that Owens (dry) Lake and mining wastes from the adjacent Cerro Gordo mining district are the primary sources of As, Ba, Li, and Pb in dusts from Owens Valley. Decreases in dust contents of As, Ba, and Sb with distance from Owens Valley suggest that dust from southern Owens Valley is being transported at least 400 km to the east. Samples of old dust that accumulated before European settlement are distinctly lower in As, Ba, and Sb abundances relative to modern dust, likely due to modern transport of dust from Owens Valley. Thus, southern Owens Valley appears to be an important, geochemically distinct, point source for regional dust in the southwestern United States. Copyright ?? 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.
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Geochemical evidence for diversity of dust sources in the southwestern United States