US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Quaternary International 235 (2011) 57-69; doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2010.12.014


Data relative to thsi study can be seen at


A sediment core taken from the western edge of the Bonneville Basin has provided high-resolution proxy records of relative lake-size change for the period 45.1-10.5 calendar ka (hereafter ka). Age control was provided by a paleomagnetic secular variation (PSV)-based age model for Blue Lake core BL04-4. Continuous records of δ18O and total inorganic carbon (TIC) generally match an earlier lake-level envelope based on outcrops and geomorphic features, but with differences in the timing of some hydrologic events/states. The Stansbury Oscillation was found to consist of two oscillations centered on 25 and 24 ka. Lake Bonneville appears to have reached its geomorphic highstand and began spilling at 18.5 ka. The fall from the highstand to the Provo level occurred at 17.0 ka and the lake intermittently overflowed at the Provo level until 15.2 ka, at which time the lake fell again, bottoming out at ~14.7 ka. The lake also fell briefly below the Provo level at ~15.9 ka. Carbonate and δ18O data indicate that between 14.7 and 13.1 ka the lake slowly rose to the Gilbert shoreline and remained at about that elevation until 11.6 ka, when it fell again. Chemical and sedimentological data indicate that a marsh formed in the Blue Lake area at 10.5 ka.

Relatively dry periods in the BL04-4 records are associated with Heinrich events H1eH4, suggesting that either the warming that closely followed a Heinrich event increased the evaporation rate in the Bonneville Basin and (or) that the core of the polar jet stream (PJS) shifted north of the Bonneville Basin in response to massive losses of ice from the Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) during the Heinrich event. The second Stansbury Oscillation occurred during Heinrich event H2, and the Gilbert wet event occurred during the Younger Dryas cold interval. Several relatively wet events in BL04-4 occur during Dansgaard- Oeschger (DO) warm events.

The growth of the Bear River glacier between 32 and 17 ka paralleled changes in the values of proxy indicators of Bonneville Basin wetness and terminal moraines on the western side of the Wasatch Mountains have ages ranging from 16.9 to 15.2 ka. This suggests a near synchroneity of change in the hydrologic and cryologic balances occurring in the Bonneville drainage system and that glacial extent was linked to lake size.