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Book Chapter

Paleohydrology of playas in the northern Great Plains: Perspectives from Palliser’s Triangle

By
William M. Last
William M. Last
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Published:
January 01, 1994

Palliser’s Triangle, the most arid portion of the Great Plains of western Canada, contains many playa lake basins. Because of the great diversity in basin types, brine chemistries, and depositional processes, the sediments in these lakes offer a tremendous opportunity to examine past hydrological and environmental conditions and changes in the region. Despite the sensitivity of these deposits to environmental change, interpreting the records in terms of paleohydrology, chemistry, and climate is fraught with difficulty. Factors that complicate these interpretations include: diagenesis of the evaporites, post-depositional physical disruption of the sediments, and a lack of proper understanding of the depositional processes operating in lakes of this type. Furthermore, an active and growing industrial minerals industry based on the deposits of the salt playas has obliterated, and will likely continue to adversely affect, the stratigraphic records of some of the basins with the greatest research potential. Notwithstanding these problems, the sediments of the playa lakes provide the best and, in some cases, only record of past environmental conditions in this semiarid region. Paleohydrology in this area of the northern Great Plains is poised for a rapid expansion, fueled by the combination of significant technological break-throughs, improvements in methodology, and a more positive view of the importance of paleohydrological research in environmental management.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

Paleoclimate and Basin Evolution of Playa Systems

Michael R. Rosen
Michael R. Rosen
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Geological Society of America
Volume
289
ISBN print:
9780813722894
Publication date:
January 01, 1994

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