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Stratigraphy, Geochronology and Geochemistry of Paleolakes on the Southern Bolivian Altiplano

by Placzek, Christa.

Abstract (Summary)
Precise chronologies of climate events in the tropics are rare yet essential for understanding how tropical climate relates to global climate at millennial to longer time scales. An increasingly important area for understanding these interactions is the southern Bolivian Altiplano (15-22oS) which represents the waning and southeastern end of the South American Monsoon, a system that is, today, modulated by regional upper-air circulation anomalies under the influence of tropical Pacific sea-surface temperature gradients associated with El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Mechanisms of summer rainfall variations on millennial and longer time scales are less well understood, despite well-established evidence for profound changes in hydrologic budgets on the southern Bolivian Altiplano. Large shifts in effective moisture on the southern Bolivian Altiplano produced deep lakes in the Poopo, Coipasa, and Uyuni basins, basins that are currently occupied by salt pans or very shallow lakes. We mapped shoreline stratigraphy and sampled carbonates for over 170 uranium-thorium (U-Th) and radiocarbon (14C) dates to refine paleolake history of the Southern Bolivian Altiplano. As part of this dissertation work, I helped assemble a U-Th dating facility at the University of Arizona and obtained over 90 uranium-thorium (U-Th) dates from paleolake carbonates. Carbonate textures were evaluated for potential diagenetic effects, but the principal consideration in dating such carbonates is the isotopic composition and quantity of initial Th incorporated into the carbonate. We establish criteria for statigraphically meaningful dates and strategies for successful U-Th dating of paleolake carbonates. The stable isotope, 87-strontium/86- 12 strontium (87Sr/86Sr), and 234U/238U ratios of modern surface waters and of paleolake carbonates can be used as tracers of the region’s various lake cycles and provides a test hydrologic models of these lake cycles. Volcanic tuffs provide important stratigraphic markers for paleolimnologic, geomorphic, and archeological studies. Despite the widespread occurrence of late Quaternary tuffs on the Bolivian Altiplano, few of these deposits have been previously recognized either from natural exposures or in paleolake sediment cores. We document the presence of 38 distal tuffs in Quaternary lacustrine and alluvial deposits, and determine the composition of glass and phenocrysts by electron microprobe analyses. 13
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School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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