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Early Holocene Great Salt Lake

July 1, 2015

Shorelines and surficial deposits (including buried forest-floor mats and organic-rich wetland sediments) show that Great Salt Lake did not rise higher than modern lake levels during the earliest Holocene (11.5–10.2 cal ka BP; 10–9 14C ka BP). During that period, finely laminated, organic-rich muds (sapropel) containing brine-shrimp cysts and pellets and interbedded sodium-sulfate salts were deposited on the lake floor. Sapropel deposition was probably caused by stratification of the water column — a freshwater cap possibly was formed by groundwater, which had been stored in upland aquifers during the immediately preceding late-Pleistocene deep-lake cycle (Lake Bonneville), and was actively discharging on the basin floor. A climate characterized by low precipitation and runoff, combined with local areas of groundwater discharge in piedmont settings, could explain the apparent conflict between evidence for a shallow lake (a dry climate) and previously published interpretations for a moist climate in the Great Salt Lake basin of the eastern Great Basin.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Early Holocene Great Salt Lake
DOI 10.1016/j.yqres.2015.05.001
Authors Charles G. Oviatt, David B. Madsen, David M. Miller, Robert S. Thompson, John P. McGeehin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Quaternary Research
Index ID 70187424
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center