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The Pilot Valley shoreline: An early record of Lake Bonneville dynamics

July 6, 2016

The Pilot Valley shoreline is named for distinctive gravel beaches on the eastern, northern, and western sides of Pilot Valley playa, Utah. The shoreline has been identified across the Bonneville basin where it is characterized by one to three beach crests between ~ 1305 and 1309 m elevation, all overlain by deep-water marl of Lake Bonneville. It thus represents the lowest and earliest recognized shoreline of Lake Bonneville. Features of the shoreline indicate that both high wave energy and high stream sediment discharge contributed to shoreline development. Basin hypsometry did not play a role in the development of the shoreline, which must have been caused by a combination of climatically driven hydrologic and storm factors, such as reduced precipitation that stabilized lake level and increase in storm-driven wave energy. The Pilot Valley shoreline is poorly dated at about 30 ka. If it is somewhat older, correlation with Greenland Interstadial 5.1 at 30.8–30.6 ka could explain the stabilization of lake level.