Quaternary sea-level history and the origin of the northernmost coastal aeolianites in the Americas: Channel Islands National Park, California, USA

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Along most of the Pacific Coast of North America, sand dunes are dominantly silicate-rich. On the California Channel Islands, however, dunes are carbonate-rich, due to high productivity offshore and a lack of dilution by silicate minerals. Older sands on the Channel Islands contain enough carbonate to be cemented into aeolianite. Several generations of carbonate aeolianites are present on the California Channel Islands and represent the northernmost Quaternary coastal aeolianites on the Pacific Coast of North America. The oldest aeolianites on the islands may date to the early Pleistocene and thus far have only been found on Santa Cruz Island. Aeolianites with well-developed soils are found on both San Miguel Island and Santa Rosa Island and likely date to the middle Pleistocene. The youngest and best-dated aeolianites are located on San Miguel Island and Santa Rosa Island. These sediments were deposited during the late Pleistocene following the emergence of marine terraces that date to the last interglacial complex (~ 120,000 yr to ~ 80,000 yr). Based on radiocarbon and luminescence dating, the ages of these units correspond in time with marine isotope stages [MIS] 4, 3, and 2. Sea level was significantly lower than present during all three time periods. Reconstruction of insular paleogeography indicates that large areas to the north and northwest of the islands would have been exposed at these times, providing a ready source of carbonate-rich skeletal sands. These findings differ from a previously held concept that carbonate aeolianites are dominantly an interglacial phenomenon forming during high stands of sea. In contrast, our results are consistent with the findings of other investigators of the past decade who have reported evidence of glacial-age and interstadial-age aeolianites on coastlines of Australia and South Africa. They are also consistent with observations made by Darwin regarding the origin of aeolianites on the island of St. Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean, more than a century and a half ago.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Quaternary sea-level history and the origin of the northernmost coastal aeolianites in the Americas: Channel Islands National Park, California, USA
Series title Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2017.11.042
Volume 491
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Description 39 p.
First page 38
Last page 76
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Channel Islands National Park