Abstract

Debris flows debouching onto the alluvial fan at the north end of Panamint Valley, California, have been episodically impounded behind sand dunes, resulting in boulder-strewn, nearly flat topped deposits in irregular basins upslope of the dunes, whose upper surface is higher than the adjacent fan surface. Upslope migration of the dune field over and beyond these deposits eventually leaves them as debris-flow benches rising above the general fan surface. These features are therefore dune-contact forms, analogous to ice-contact forms such as kame terraces, in that both involve deposition against ephemeral barriers. Benches punctuate the alluvial-fan surface for 5 km downfan from the modern dune field. Clast seismic velocities of boulders on these benches indicate that bench ages increase monotonically with distance from the present dunes, implying that the dune field has migrated up the fan. Because the oldest bench is below the altitude of the highest pluvial lake shoreline in Panamint Valley (Gale Stage, ca. 50 ka) and slightly above the latest lakeshore (I Stage, ca. 14 ka), it seems likely that the dunes originated near the shore of the latest lake and have moved upfan at an average rate of 0.8 m/yr.

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