A model that describes the distribution of calcium carbonate in desert soils as a function of dust flux, time, climate, and other soil-forming factors shows which factors most strongly influence the accumulation of carbonate and can be used to evaluate carbonate-based soil age estimates or paleoclimatic reconstructions. Models for late Holocene soils have produced carbonate distributions that are very similar to those of well-dated soils in New Mexico and southern California. These results suggest that (1) present climate is a fair representation of late Holocene climate, (2) carbonate dust flux can be approximated by its Holocene rate, and (3) changes in climate and/or dust flux at the end of the Pleistocene effected profound and complex changes in soil carbonate distributions. Both higher carbonate dust flux and greater effective precipitation are required during the latest Pleistocene-early Holocene to explain carbonate distributions in latest Pleistocene soils.

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