A minimum age for canyon incision and for the extinct Molossid bat, Tadarida constantinei, from Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico


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Publication Date

January 2006


Slaughter Canyon Cave (or New Cave), Carlsbad Caverns National Park, southeastern New Mexico, opens in the wall of Slaughter Canyon, 174 m above the present level of the canyon floor. It contains bone-bearing, water-laid sediments capped by a double layer of calcite. TIMS U-Th dates on the two layers are 66.0 ± 0.3 ka and 209 ±9 ka. Deposition of these two laterally-extensive calcite layers suggests wet periods in this currently-arid region during MIS 4 and 7. The date on the lower layers suggests that the elastic deposit was emplaced no later than MIS 8. This yields a maximum estimate for downcutting rate of the canyon of∼0.87 mm yr-1 during the Late Pleistocene. The clastic deposit contains bones of the molossid bat Tadarida constantinei Lawrence 1960: the date of 209 ± 9 ka is thus a minimum age for this extinct bat.

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Journal of cave and karst studies the National Speleological Society bulletin, Vol. 68, no. 3 (2006).