Uranium-Series Dating of Sediments from Searles Lake: Differences Between Continental and Marine Climate Records

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Science  08 Mar 1985:
Vol. 227, Issue 4691, pp. 1222-1224
DOI: 10.1126/science.227.4691.1222


One of the major unresolved questions in Pleistocene paleoclimatology has been whether continental climatic transitions are consistent with the glacial δ18O marine record. Searles Lake in California, now a dry salt pan, is underlain by sediment layers deposited in a succession of lakes whose levels and salinities have fluctuated in response to changes in climate over the last 3 x 106 years. Uraniumseries dates on the salt beds range from 35 x 103 to 231x 103 years. This range of dates allows identification of lake-sediment horizons that are time correlatives of the boundaries of marine isotope stages from the recent 3/4 boundary back to the 8/9 boundary. The 5/6 boundary coincided with a deepening of the lake, but the analogous 1/2 boundary coincided with desiccation. The 3/4, 4/5, 6/7, 7/8, and 8/9 boundaries correspond in age to horizons that record little or no change in sedimentation or climate. These hydrologic results demonstrate that the continental paleoclimate record at this mid-latitude site does not mimic the marine record.