Stratigraphic investigations of fluvio-deltaic and lacustrine sediments exposed in stream cuts, quarry walls, and deep trenches east of the Sierra Nevada in Owens Valley near Lone Pine, California have enabled the reconstruction of pluvial Owens Lake level oscillations. Age control for these sediments is from 22 radiocarbon (14C) dates and the identification and stratigraphic correlation of a tephra, which when plotted as a function of age versus altitude, define numerous oscillations in the level of pluvial Owens Lake during the latest Pleistocene and early Holocene. We have constructed a lake-level altitude curve for the time interval ???27,000 cal yr BP to present that is based on the integration of this new stratigraphic analysis with published surface stratigraphic data and subsurface core data. Pluvial Owens Lake regressed from its latest Pleistocene highstands from ???27,000 to ???15,300 cal yr BP, as recorded by ???15 m of down cutting of the sill from the altitudes of ???1160 to 1145 m. By ???11,600 cal yr BP, the lake had dropped ???45 m from the 1145 m sill. This lowstand was followed by an early Holocene transgression that attained a highstand near 1135 m before dropping to 1120 m at 7860-7650 cal yr BP that had not been recognized in earlier studies. The lake then lowered another ???30 m to shallow and near desiccation levels between ???6850 and 4300 cal yr BP. Fluvial cut-and-fill relations north of Lone Pine and well-preserved shoreline features at ???1108 m indicate a minor lake-level rise after 4300 cal yr BP, followed by alkaline and shallow conditions during the latest Holocene. The new latest Quaternary lake-level record of pluvial Owens Lake offers insight to the hydrologic balance along the east side of the southern Sierra Nevada and will assist regional paleoclimatic models for the western Basin and Range. ?? 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Last glacial maximum and Holocene lake levels of Owens Lake, eastern California, USA