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Late Quaternary MIS 6–8 shoreline features of pluvial Owens Lake, Owens Valley, eastern California

By
A.S. Jayko
A.S. Jayko
U.S. Geological Survey, U.C. White Mountain Research Station, Bishop, California 93514, USA
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S.N. Bacon
S.N. Bacon
Desert Research Institute, Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Reno, Nevada 89521, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2008

The chronologic history of pluvial Owens Lake along the eastern Sierra Nevada in Owens Valley, California, has previously been reported for the interval of time from ca. 25 calibrated ka to the present. However, the age, distribution, and paleoclimatic context of higher-elevation shoreline features have not been formally documented. We describe the location and characteristics of wave-formed erosional and depositional features, as well as fluvial strath terraces that grade into an older shoreline of pluvial Owens Lake. These pluvial-lacustrine features are described between the Olancha area to the south and Poverty Hills area to the north, and they appear to be vertically deformed ∼20 ± 4 m across the active oblique-dextral Owens Valley fault zone. They occur at elevations from 1176 to 1182 m along the lower flanks of the Inyo Mountains and Coso Range east of the fault zone to as high as ∼1204 m west of the fault zone. This relict shoreline, referred to as the 1180 m shoreline, lies ∼20–40 m higher than the previously documented Last Glacial Maximum shoreline at ∼1160 m, which occupied the valley during marine isotope stage 2 (MIS 2).

Crosscutting relations of wave-formed platforms, notches, and sandy beach deposits, as well as strath terraces on lava flows of the Big Pine volcanic field, bracket the age of the 1180 m shoreline to the time interval between ca. 340 ∼ 60 ka and ca. 130 ∼ 50 ka. This interval includes marine oxygen isotope stages 8–6 (MIS 8–6), corresponding to 260–240 ka and 185–130 ka, respectively. An additional age estimate for this shoreline is provided by a cosmogenic 36Cl model age of ca. 160 ∼ 32 ka on reefal tufa at ∼1170 m elevation from the southeastern margin of the valley. This 36Cl model age corroborates the constraining ages based on dated lava flows and refines the lake age to the MIS 6 interval. Documentation of this larger pluvial Owens Lake offers insight to the hydrologic balance along the east side of the southern Sierra Nevada and will assist with future regional paleoclimatic models within the western Basin and Range.

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GSA Special Papers

Late Cenozoic Drainage History of the Southwestern Great Basin and Lower Colorado River Region: Geologic and Biotic Perspectives

Marith C. Reheis
Marith C. Reheis
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Robert Hershler
Robert Hershler
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David M. Miller
David M. Miller
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Geological Society of America
Volume
439
ISBN print:
9780813724393
Publication date:
January 01, 2008

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