Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in The Holocene 21 (2011), doi: 10.1177/0959683611405242 Copyright © 2011 William O. Hobbs, Sherilyn C. Fritz, Jeffery R. Stone, Joseph J. Donovan, Eric C. Grimm, and James E. Almendinger; published by Sage Publications. Used by permission.


Sediment records from closed-basin lakes in the Northern Great Plains (NGP) of North America have contributed significantly to our understanding of regional paleoclimatology. A high-resolution (near decadal) fossil diatom record from Kettle Lake, ND, USA that spans the last 8500 cal. yr BP is interpreted in concert with percent abundance of aragonite in the sediment as an independent proxy of groundwater flow to the lake (and thus lake water level). Kettle Lake has been relatively fresh for the majority of the Holocene, likely because of the coarse substrata and a strong connection to the underlying aquifer. Interpretation of diatom assemblages in four groups indicative of low to high groundwater flow, based on the percent of aragonite in sediments, allow interpretations of arid periods (and probable meromictic lake conditions) that could not be detected based on diatom-based salinity reconstructions alone. At the centennial–millennial scale, the diatom record suggests humid/wet periods from 8351 to 8088, 4364 to 1406 and 872 to 620 cal. yr BP, with more arid periods intervening. During the last ~4500 years, decadal–centennial scale periods of drought have taken place, despite the generally wetter climate. These droughts appear to have had similar impacts on the Kettle Lake hydrology as the “Dust Bowl” era droughts, but were longer in duration.