Lake sediments that accumulated in the Estancia basin, central New Mexico, provide a detailed record of submillennial latest Pleistocene climatic oscillations. Sedimentologic, biologic, and geochemical proxies for changes in salinity and lake level were used to identify episodes of wet and dry climate that occurred between 24 and 12 k.y. B.P., as dated by 14C by means of accelerator mass spectrometry from shoreline and basin-center deposits. These dates determine the timing and duration of the episodes of wet and dry climate. The lake expanded and contracted repeatedly during the last glacial maximum and fluctuated near its highest elevation several times during the interval ca. 20 to 15 k.y. B.P. A pronounced lowstand lasting ∼1 k.y. occurred between ca. 15 and 14 k.y. B.P., followed by two more highstands of the lake between ca. 14 and 12.5 k.y. B.P. Desiccation of the perennial lake after 12 k.y. B.P. was followed by a final, poorly dated highstand at ca. 10 k.y. B.P. The record of lake-level fluctuations from the Estancia basin provides a high-resolution record of changes in water budget in a basin, the comparatively simple physiography and hydrogeology of which ensured a direct response to the strong climatic fluctuations that occurred during the last glacial maximum and termination.

You do not currently have access to this article.