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Lateral growth of Late Pleistocene stromatolites from Walker Lake (Nevada) and proxy constraints on environmental change
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Department of Earth Sciences, Palaeobiology.
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2014 (English)In: 2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, 2014Conference paper, Poster (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Walker Lake, a terminal sodium bicarbonate lake in Western Nevada (Great Basin, USA) contains numerous carbonate structures, including stromatolites. The lake is a remnant of the larger Pleistocene Lake Lahontan system that has been isolated for the last ~12 ka. Stromatolites of unique macroscale morphology were collected at the ancient Lahontan shoreline during the 2014 International Geobiology Course.

Initial observations of a stromatolite bed revealed a bowl-shaped carbonate framework composed of stacked, weakly laminated, vertical and horizontal petal-like structures with copious pore space. One laterally-oriented petal was taken off of the main structure and studied. Petrographical observations exhibit two types of alternating microfabrics and three transitions in microfabric. Both sparry crystal fans of calcite, and convex layers of fine micrite with occasional trapped crystals and fossils, were observed.

Calibrated 14C ages (IntCal13) for the proximal and the distal end of the stromatolite are 35,540 YBP and 33,580 YBP, respectively. Clumped isotope (D47)-based estimates of temperature steadily increase throughout most of this interval, from the beginning of accretion, to the middle of the structure. By the distal end, values are at their peak, and at the tip temperatures decrease again. D47-temperatures correspond to microfabric, with textural changes associated with evidence for climatic fluctuations.

We suggest the stromatolite formation may have been initiated during warmer intervals, induced by the chemical precipitation of calcite fans which served as a substrate for a biofilm growth. Microbial activity trapped the fine sediment and formed micrite. Colder conditions propagated fan precipitation. Microfabric alternation throughout the stromatolite records environmental change in the span of ca. 2000 years of Lake Lahontan history, likely in response to lake level fluctuations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
stromatolites, clumped isotopes, Pleistocene, Nevada
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Research subject
Earth Science with specialization in Historical Geology and Palaeontology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-259534OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-259534DiVA: diva2:844722
GSA Annual Meeting 2014, Vancouver, British Columbia, 19-20 October
Available from: 2015-08-07 Created: 2015-08-07 Last updated: 2015-12-04

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