Reconstructing past water balance changes from closed-basin lakes in the central Andes
I am currently reconstructing multiple well-dated records of paleolake level variations from the Altiplano plateau of the central Andes (21°-27°S, 4200-4500 meters above sea level). Our aim is to gain a spatiotemporal understanding of water balance changes associated with late Pleistocene climate change in South America. The now arid deserts of the central Andes are home to various high-altitude (>3800 meters above sea level) closed-basin paleolakes surrounded by well-preserved paleoshorelines that indicate previous intervals of much wetter conditions. By mapping and U/Th dating deposits on these paleoshorelines, such lakes provide unequivocal evidence of lake surface area changes throughout time. Moreover, the simple geometry and relatively small size of these basins makes them amenable to hydrological modeling, allowing us to extract quantitative estimates of past precipitation changes from lake level reconstructions.
Fieldwork associated with this project is supported by a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant awarded in 2016.
Associated Media: [National Geographic] [Oceanus Magazine] [Medill Climate Change News]
Quantitative lake level constraints from tufas and paleoshorelines in Searles Lake, southeast California, U.S.A.
In addition, a sediment core extracted from the basin center in 2017 will allow us to correlate the discontinuous tufa-based lake level chronology with continuous geochemical proxy data.
Fieldwork associated with this project is supported by student research grants from the Explorers Club, Geological Society of America, and the American Philosophical Society.