LAST GLACIAL MAXIMUM LAKE LEVEL OSCILLATIONS IN THE MONO BASIN, CA
We are in the process of dating the Wilson Creek Formation based on U/Th analysis of clean, dense carbonate, and on C-14 analysis of terrestrial macrofossils. Our stratigraphic observations so far require that the global Last Glacial Maximum (~33-19 kyr), though punctuated by one substantial lake highstand, was broadly characterized by times when the lake was shrinking—namely, a lowstand of 1,975 meters sometime between ~23 and 20.6 kyr. Shortly after attaining that low level, the lake rose dramatically, reaching 2,155 meters—its highest level of Marine Isotope Stage 2. We tentatively conclude that throughout most of the period of regional (i.e. Sierra Nevada) glacier and global ice sheet growth, the Mono Basin’s climate was cold and relatively dry. By dating samples that we have already collected from critical elevations in the Mono Basin, we expect to further clarify the timing of persistently dry conditions that drove the low lake levels; and of the shift in the atmospheric circulation that forced the lake to its Marine Isotope Stage 2 highstand.