An ~15,000-Year Record of El Niño-Driven Alluviation in Southwestern Ecuador

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Science  22 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5401, pp. 516-520
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5401.516

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Debris flows have deposited inorganic laminae in an alpine lake that is 75 kilometers east of the Pacific Ocean, in Ecuador. These storm-induced events were dated by radiocarbon, and the age of laminae that are less than 200 years old matches the historic record of El Niño events. From about 15,000 to about 7000 calendar years before the present, the periodicity of clastic deposition is greater than or equal to 15 years; thereafter, there is a progressive increase in frequency to periodicities of 2 to 8.5 years. This is the modern El Niño periodicity, which was established about 5000 calendar years before the present. This may reflect the onset of a steeper zonal sea surface temperature gradient, which was driven by enhanced trade winds.

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