Aeolian deposits in the North American Great Plains are important sources of Holocene palaeo-environmental records. Although there are extensive studies on loess and dune records in the region, little is known about records in aeolian cliff-top deposits. These are common on table (mesa) edges in the White River Badlands. These sediments typically have loam and sandy-loam textures with dominantly very fine sand, 0.5-1% organic carbon and 0.5-5% CaCO3. Some of these aeolian deposits are atypically coarse and contain granules and fine pebbles. Buried soils within these deposits are weakly developed with A-C and A-AC-C profiles. Beneath these are buried soils with varying degrees of pedogenic development formed in fluvial, aeolian or colluvial deposits. Thickness and number of buried soils vary. However, late-Holocene soils from several localities have ages of approximately 1300, 2500 and 3700 14C yrs BP. The 1300 14C yr BP soil is cumulic, with a thicker and lighter A horizon. Soils beneath the cliff-top deposits are early-Holocene (typically 7900 but as old as 10000 14C yrs BP) at higher elevation (???950 m) tables, and late-Holocene (2900 14C yrs BP) at lower (???830 m) tables. These age estimates are based on total organic matter 14C ages from the top 5 cm of buried soils, and agreement is good between an infrared stimulated luminescence age and bracketing 14C ages. Our studies show that cliff-top aeolian deposits have a history similar to that of other aeolian deposits on the Great Plains, and they are another source of palaeoenvironmental data.
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Aeolian cliff-top deposits and buried soils in the White River Badlands, South Dakota, USA