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Stable isotope studies on Mono Lake (California)—I: d 18 O in lake sediments as proxy for climatic change during the last 150 years. Limnology and Oceanography

By Hong-chun Li, Teh-lung Ku, Lowell D. Stott and Robert F. Anderson


Mono Lake is a hypersaline, alkaline lake in the Mono Basin located #athe eastern base of the Californian Sierra Nevada. Its lake-level history since 1912 has been recorded instrumentally, showing the decline of lake-surface elevations initiated by the 1941 artificial diversion of stream inflow. We have made high-resolution oxygen isotopic measurements on the total carbonate fraction of lake sediments and shown that the S’*O record parallels the lakelevel fluctuations rather well. The measurements were carried out on sediments that had been leached with deionized water to isolate the isotopic signals of the calcium carbonate from those of pore water and water-soluble carbonate salts in the sediment. Extending the S’“O record back in time, we found that lake level changed markedly during the past 150 yr, reflecting climatic variations and resultant runoff fluctuiitions. Lake levels were high around 1845, 1880, and 19 15 and low around 1860, 1900, and 1933. This study demonstrates that closed-basin lake sediment S180 provides an effective means of probing past precipitation variations in arid to semiarid regions such as the Great Basin in the western United States. Numerous attempts have been made to reconstruct paleolake levels on the basis of geological and stable isotopic evidence from which paleohydrological conditions hav

Year: 1997
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