US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Quaternary Science Reviews 25 (2006) 2258–2270.


Oxygen and carbon isotopes from a continuous, 120-m-long, carbonate-rich core from Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho, document dramatic fluctuations in the hydrologic budget of the lake over the last 250,000 yr. Isotopic analyses of bulk sediment samples capture millennialscale variability. Ostracode calcite was analyzed from 78 levels, mainly from the upper half of the core where valves are better preserved, to compare the isotopic value of purely endogenic carbonate with the bulk sediment, which comprises both endogenic and detrital components. The long core exhibits three relatively brief intervals with abundant endogenic aragonite (50±10%) and enriched δ18O and δ13C. These intervals are interpreted as warm/dry periods when the lake retracted into a topographically closed basin. We correlate these intervals with the interglacial periods of marine oxygen-isotope stages 1, 5e, and 7a, consistent with the presently available geochronological control. During most of the time represented by the core, the lake was fresher than the modern lake, as evidenced by depleted δ18O and δ13C in bulk-sediment carbonate.