Paleoclimatic Inferences from a 120,000-Yr Calcite Record of Water-Table Fluctuation in Browns Room of Devils Hole, Nevada


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The petrographic and morphologic differences between calcite precipitated below, at, or above the present water table and uranium-series dating were used to reconstruct a chronology of water-table fluctuation for the past 120,000 yr in Browns Room, a subterranean air-filled chamber of Devils Hole fissure adjacent to the discharge area of the large Ash Meadows groundwater flow system in southern Nevada. The water table was more than 5 m above present level between about 116,000 and 53,000 yr ago, fluctuated between about +5 and +9 m during the period between about 44,000 and 20,000 yr ago, and declined rapidly from +9 to its present level during the past 20,000 yr. Because the Ash Meadows groundwater basin is greater than 12,000 km2 in extent, these documented water-table fluctuations are likely to be of regional significance. Although different in detail, water-level fluctuation recorded by Browns Room calcites generally correlate with other Great Basin proxy palcoclimatic data.

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Quaternary Research, Vol. 41, no. 1 (1994-01).