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Pedogenic carbonate stable isotope record of environmental change during the Neogene in the Southern Great Plains, southwest Kansas, USA; oxygen isotopes and paleoclimate during the evolution of C (sub 4) -dominated grasslands

David L. Fox, James G. Honey, Robert A. Martin and Pablo Pelaez-Campomanes
Pedogenic carbonate stable isotope record of environmental change during the Neogene in the Southern Great Plains, southwest Kansas, USA; oxygen isotopes and paleoclimate during the evolution of C (sub 4) -dominated grasslands
Geological Society of America Bulletin (November 2011) 124 (3-4): 431-443

Abstract

Neogene strata in the Meade Basin (southwest Kansas) preserve numerous superposed calcareous paleosols in sections that range in age from the Clarendonian North American Land Mammal Age (NALMA; 12.0-9.0 Ma, early late Miocene) to the early Irvingtonian NALMA (ca. 2.5-ca. 1 Ma, early Pleistocene). The carbon isotope compositions (delta 13C relative to Vienna Peedee belemnite [VPDB]) of pedogenic carbonates from these sections record the protracted regional increase in the abundance of grasses using the C4 photosynthetic pathway over this interval, with the first appearance of a modern-like grassland ecosystem having >70% C4 biomass around 1.3 Ma. We use the stable oxygen isotope composition (delta 18O relative to Vienna standard mean ocean water [VSMOW]) of 194 paleosol carbonates from 19 measured sections to reconstruct the climatic conditions in the Meade Basin during the rise of C4 grasses to ecological dominance in the region. Pedogenic carbonate delta 18O values are sensitive to soil temperature and the delta 18O of soil water, and hence they are a paleoclimate proxy. Carbonate delta 13C values do not exhibit consistent trends in relation to delta 18O values, indicating no consistent relationship between short-term climatic conditions in terms of temperature or aridity and the abundance of C4 biomass. Mean carbonate delta 18O values within biostratigraphic intervals decrease from the Clarendonian (25.3 ppm+ or -0.72 ppm) to the early and middle Blancan (21.8 ppm+ or -0.87 ppm and 22.1 ppm+ or -0.69 ppm, respectively), and they also exhibit a decreasing trend in the late Blancan-early Irvingtonian, from approximately 25 ppm to approximately 21 ppm. The increase in delta 18O values between the end of the middle Blancan and the beginning of the late Blancan-early Irvingtonian sections could reflect the onset of Northern Hemisphere glaciation and a change in the isotope composition of the hydrosphere due to increased ice volume. The long-term trend in delta (super 18) O values suggests that C4 biomass increased coincident with some combination of decreasing temperature, increasing proportion of winter precipitation recharge of soil water, and/or increasing soil moisture. Thus, the ecological dominance of C4 grasses in the region today does not seem to be linked to warmer temperatures or increased aridity.


ISSN: 0016-7606
EISSN: 1943-2674
Coden: BUGMAF
Serial Title: Geological Society of America Bulletin
Serial Volume: 124
Serial Issue: 3-4
Title: Pedogenic carbonate stable isotope record of environmental change during the Neogene in the Southern Great Plains, southwest Kansas, USA; oxygen isotopes and paleoclimate during the evolution of C (sub 4) -dominated grasslands
Affiliation: University of Minnesota, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Minneapolis, MN, United States
Pages: 431-443
Published: 20111101
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 58
Accession Number: 2012-016187
Categories: Isotope geochemistryStratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: With GSA Data Repository Item 2011261
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 4 tables, sketch map
N37°13'60" - N37°15'00", W100°31'00" - W100°30'00"
Secondary Affiliation: University of Colorado, USA, United StatesMurray State University, USA, United StatesNational Museum of Natural History, ESP, Spain
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201209
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