US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Paleolimnology 31: 217–233, 2004.


Petrological and textural properties of lacustrine sediments from Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, reflect changing input volumes of glacial flour and thus reveal a detailed glacial history for the southern Cascade Range between about 37 and 15 ka. Magnetic properties vary as a result of mixing different amounts of the highly magnetic, glacially generated detritus with less magnetic, more weathered detritus derived from unglaciated parts of the large catchment. Evidence that the magnetic properties record glacial flour input is based mainly on the strong correlation between bulk sediment particle size and parameters that measure the magnetite content and magnetic mineral freshness. High magnetization corresponds to relatively fine particle size and lower magnetization to coarser particle size. This relation is not found in the Buck Lake core in a nearby, unglaciated catchment. Angular silt-sized volcanic rock fragments containing unaltered magnetite dominate the magnetic fraction in the late Pleistocene sediments but are absent in younger, low magnetization sediments. The finer grained, highly magnetic sediments contain high proportions of planktic diatoms indicative of cold, oligotrophic limnic conditions. Sediment with lower magnetite content contains populations of diatoms indicative of warmer, eutrophic limnic conditions. During the latter part of oxygen isotope stage 3 (about 37–25 ka), the magnetic properties record millennial-scale variations in glacial-flour content. The input of glacial flour was uniformly high during the Last Glacial Maximum, between about 21 and 16 ka. At about 16 ka, magnetite input, both absolute and relative to hematite, decreased abruptly, reflecting a rapid decline in glacially derived detritus. The decrease in magnetite transport into the lake preceded declines in pollen from both grass and sagebrush. A more gradual decrease in heavy mineral content over this interval records sediment starvation with the growth of marshes at the margins of the lake and dilution of detrital material by biogenic silica and other organic matter.