LAKE-LEVEL, LAKE-SURFACE AREA, AND LAKE-VOLUME CHANGES AT PYRAMID LAKE, NV OVER THE LAST 16 CAL KA
Shortly after the Lake Lahontan highstand (~ 1338 m; ~ 15.7 cal ka), lake levels fell dramatically to or below the elevation of Emerson Pass (~ 1200 m), which serves as a sill connecting PWL to the downstream Smoke Creek-Black Rock Desert (SCBR) subbasin of the Lahontan system. During the Younger Dryas period, lake levels rose to ~ 1230 m, flooding Emerson Pass and integrating PWL with SCBR and the Honey Lake subbasin, corresponding to a lake-surface area of ~ 5560 km2 and volume of ~ 210 km3. Lake levels then rapidly fell to below 1154 m at around 11 cal ka. Lake levels again rose to Emerson Pass at around 7.7 cal ka (~ 930 km2 and ~ 61 km3) before descending to relatively low levels through the mid-Holocene. During the late Holocene and into the historical period, lake levels have fluctuated between ~ 1195 m (~900 km2 and ~56 km3) and 1155 m (~ 440 km2 and ~ 25 km3). The paleohydrologic variability expressed over the last 5000 years corresponds to surface area changes of + 10 % to – 46 % relative to the surface area (~ 817 km2) associated with the common early historical elevation of ~ 1178 m, while volumetric changes ranged between + 37 % and – 39 % relative to the lake volume of the early historical period (~ 41 km3). This range of variability reflects long-term (decadal to centennial) changes in water balance and probably encapsulates what is possible in this system under modern climate boundary conditions.