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Change in the size of Walker Lake during the past 5000 years

January 1, 1991

In 1984, a 12-m sediment core (WLC84-8) was taken from the deepest part of Walker Lake. Samples of the core were analysed for diatoms, pollen, carbonate mineralogy, magnesium content, ??18O and ??13C values of the total inorganic fractin, ??18O and ??13C values of Limnocythere ceriotuberosa, ??13C values of the total organic fraction, grain size, and magnetic susceptibility. The data indicate that Walker Lake became shallow and probably desiccated between ???5300-4800 and 2700-2100 yr B.P.. Each of the organic and inorganic proxy indicators of lake size discussed in this paper was useful in determining the presence of the shallow-lake intervals. However, none of the indicators was useful in determining the cause of the shallow-lake intervals. Instead, the types of fish living in Walker Lake prior to 1940 were used to demonstrate that shallow-lake intervals resulted from diversion of the Walker River and not from climatic aridity. Major changes in mineralogy and magnesium content of carbonates and major changes in diatom populations with time were found to be a function of the chemical evolution of Walker Lake combined with changing lake size. The stable isotopes of oxygen and carbon were found to be good indicators of lake volume changes. A lake-level record for Walker Lake constructed from stable-isotope data was found to be similar to a lake-level record constructed using tufa and tree-stump data. Both records indicate relatively high lake levels between 4800-2700 yr B.P., at 1250 yr B.P., and within the last 300 yr. Substantial declines in lake level occurred ???2000 and ???1000 yr B.P. ?? 1991.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1991
Title Change in the size of Walker Lake during the past 5000 years
DOI
Authors L. V. Benson, P.A. Meyers, R.J. Spencer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Series Number
Index ID 70016587
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization