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During the last glacial maximum (LGM), the western Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah were occupied by the Western Uinta Ice Field. Cosmogenic Be-10 surface-exposure ages from the terminal moraine in the North Fork Provo Valley and paired Al-26 and Be-10 ages from striated bedrock at Bald Mountain Pass set limits on the timing of the local LGM. Moraine boulder ages suggest that ice reached its maximum extent by 17.4 +/- 0.5 ka (+/- 2 sigma). Be-10 and Al-26 measurements on striated bedrock from Bald Mountain Pass, situated near the former center of the ice field, yield a mean Al-26/Be-10 ratio of 5.7 +/- 0.8 and a mean exposure age of 14.0 +/- 0.5 ka, which places a minimum-limiting age on when the ice field melted...
Six methods for approximating late Pleistocene (Pinedale) equilibrium-line altitudes (ELAs) are compared for rapidity of data collection and error (RMSE) from first-order trend surfaces, using the Colorado Front Range. Trend surfaces computed from rapidly applied techniques, such as glaciation threshold, median altitude of small reconstructed glaciers, and altitude of lowest cirque floors have relatively high RMSEs (97?186 m) because they are subjectively derived and are based on small glaciers sensitive to microclimatic variability. Surfaces computed for accumulation-area ratios (AARs) and toe-to-headwall altitude ratios (THARs) of large reconstructed glaciers show that an AAR of 0.65 and a THAR of 0.40 have the...
Using 10Be and 26Al measured in sediment and bedrock, we quantify rates of upland erosion and sediment supply to a small basin in northwestern New Mexico. This and many other similar basins in the southwestern United States have been affected by cycles of arroyo incision and backfilling several times in the past few millennia. The sediment generation (275 � 65 g m?2 yr?1) and bedrock equivalent lowering rates (102 � 24 m myr?1) we determine are sufficient to support at least three arroyo cycles in the past 3,000 years, consistent with rates calculated from a physical sediment budget within the basin and regional rates determined using other techniques. Nuclide concentrations measured in different sediment sources...
Eolian deposition on the semiarid southern Colorado Plateau has been attributed to episodic aridity during the Quaternary Period. However, OSL ages from three topographically controlled (e.g. falling) dunes on Black Mesa in northeastern Arizona indicate that eolian sediments there were deposited in deep tributary valleys as early as 35–30 ka, with most sand deposited before 20 ka. In contrast, the oldest OSL ages for sand sheets fall within the Pleistocene-Holocene climatic transition (~ 12–8 ka). Thus most eolian sediment accumulated on Black Mesa under climatic conditions that were in general cooler, moister, and more variable than today, not more arid, pointing to a considerable increase in sediment supply....
Carbonate boulders transported down steep tributary channels by debris flow came to rest on Holocene debris fans beside the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. Weakly acidic rainfall and the metabolic activity of blue-green algae have produced roughly hemispheric dissolution pits as much as 2-cm deep on the initially smooth surfaces of the boulders. The average depth of dissolution pits increases with relative age of fan surfaces. The deepening rate averages 2.4 mm/1000 yr (standard ERROR = 0.2 mm/1000 yr), as calculated from several radiometrically dated surfaces and an archeological structure. This linear rate, which appears constant over at least the past 3000 yr, is consistent with field relations...
Stream channels in the Paria River basin were eroded and partially refilled between 1883 and 1980. Basin-wide erosion began in 1883; channels were fully entrenched and widened by 1890. This erosion occurred during the well-documented period of arroyo cutting in the Southwest. Photographs of the Paria River channel taken between 1918 and 1940 show that the channel did not have a floodplain and remained wide and deep until the early 1940s. A thin bar (<50 cm), now reworked and locally preserved, was deposited at that time. Basin-wide aggradation, which began in the early 1940s, developed floodplains by vertical accretion. The floodplain alluvium, 1.3?3 m thick. consists of two units recognizable throughout the studied...
Fossil remains of Euceratherium collinum (extinct shrub-ox) have been found throughout North America, including the Grand Canyon. Recent finds from the Escalante River Basin in southern Utah further extend the animal's range into the heart of the Colorado Plateau. E. collinum teeth and a metapodial condyle (foot bone) have been recovered in association with large distinctively shaped dung pellets, a morphology similar to a ?Hershey's Kiss? (HK), from a late Pleistocene dung layer in Bechan Cave. HK dung pellets have also been recovered from other alcoves in the Escalante River Basin including Willow and Fortymile canyons. Detailed analyses of the HK pellets confirmed them to be E. collinum and indicate a browser-type...
Despite the extensive network of moisture-sensitive tree-ring chronologies in western North America, relatively few are long enough to document climatic variability before and during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) ca. AD 800-1300. We developed a 2300-yr tree-ring chronology extending to 323 BC utilizing live and remnant Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) from the Tavaputs Plateau in northeastern Utah. A resulting regression model accounts for 70% of the variance of precipitation for the AD 1918–2005 calibration period. Extreme wet and dry periods without modern analogues were identified in the reconstruction. The MCA is marked by several prolonged droughts, especially prominent in the mid AD 1100s and late...
In the western Grand Canyon, fluvial terraces and pediment surfaces, both associated with a Pleistocene basalt flow, document Quaternary aggradation and downcutting by the Colorado River, illuminate the river's response to overload and the end of overload, and allow calibration of soil-carbonate stages and determination of downcutting rates. Four downcutting?aggradation cycles are present. Each begins with erosion of older deposits to form a new river channel in which a characteristic suite of deposits is laid down. The current cycle (I) started 700 yr B.P. The oldest (IV) includes the 603,000 � 8000 to 524,000 � 7000 yr Black Ledge basalt flow, emplaced when the river channel was 30 m higher than it is now. The...
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Sixty packrat middens were collected in Canyonlands and Grand Canyon National Parks, and these series include sites north of areas that produced previous detailed series from the Colorado Plateau. The exceptionally long time series obtained from each of three sites (>48,000 C-14 yr BP to present) include some of the oldest middens yet discovered. Most middens contain a typical late-Wisconsinan glaciation mixture of mesic and xeric taxa, evidence that plant species responded to climate change by range adjustments of elevational distribution based oil individual criteria, Differences in elevational range from today for trees and shrubs ranged from no apparent change to as much as 1200 m difference. The oldest middens...
Temperature profoundly influences the physiology and life history characteristics of organisms, particularly in terms of body size. Because so many critical parameters scale with body mass, long-term temperature fluctuations can have dramatic impacts. We examined the response of a small mammalian herbivore, the bushy-tailed woodrat (Neotoma cinerea), to temperature change from 20,000 yr B.P. to present, at five sites within the Colorado Plateau. Our investigations focused on the relationship between temperature, plant composition and abundance, and woodrat size. Body size was estimated by measuring fossil fecal pellets, a technique validated in earlier work. We found significant and highly covariable patterns in...


    map background search result map search result map 50,000 years of vegetation and climate history on the Colorado Plateau, Utah and Arizona, USA 50,000 years of vegetation and climate history on the Colorado Plateau, Utah and Arizona, USA