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Loess as a Quaternary paleoenvironmental indicator

October 21, 2014

Loess is aeolian sediment that is dominated by silt-sized particles. Unlike either coarser dune sand or finer-grained, long-range-transported dust, loess is relatively poorly sorted, reflecting a combination of transport processes, including saltation, low suspension, and high suspension. Loess can be readily identified in the field; deposits range in thickness from a few centimeters to many tens of meters, and are found over large areas of Eurasia, South and North America (Fig. 1), and smaller areas of New Zealand, Australia, Africa and the Middle East. Loess covers approximately 10% of the Earth’s land surface and is therefore one of the most important terrestrial archives of paleoenvironmental change during the Quaternary. In many regions, loess sections consist of deposits of mostly unaltered sediment with intercalated paleosols. Paleosols represent periods of landscape stability when loess deposition ceased altogether, or at least slowed significantly. Loess can be dated directly using luminescence, radiocarbon, and amino acid geochronology methods.

Publication Year 2014
Title Loess as a Quaternary paleoenvironmental indicator
DOI 10.22498/pages.22.2
Authors Daniel R. Muhs, M.A. Prins, B. Machalett
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Past Global Changes
Index ID 70148341
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center