Sources of sediment in Lake Pepin on the Upper Mississippi River in response to Holocene climatic changes

David W. Kelley, Stefanie A. Brachfeld, Edward A. Nater, Herbert E. Wright

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20 Scopus citations


Sediments from Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River, southeastern Minnesota, are used as provenance tracers to assess variations in hydrology and sediment-transport during the middle Holocene. Three rivers contribute sediment to Lake Pepin, and each catchment is characterized by a distinctly different geologic terrain. The geochemical fingerprint for each drainage basin was determined from the elemental composition of heavy minerals in the silt-sized fraction of modern sediment samples. Down-core elemental abundances were compared with these fingerprints by use of a chemical-mass-balance model that apportions sediment to the source areas. We observed a decreased contribution from the Minnesota River during the interval ∼6700-5500 14C yr BP, which we attribute to decreased discharge of the Minnesota River, likely controlled by a combination of precipitation, snow melt, and groundwater input to the river. This hydrologic condition coincides with the mid-Holocene prairie period recorded by fossil pollen data. The occurrence of this feature in a proxy record for hydrologic variations supports the hypothesis that the mid-Holocene prairie period reflects drier conditions than before or after in midwestern North America.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Geochemical fingerprinting
  • Holocene
  • Lake Pepin
  • Lake sediments
  • Mass balance
  • Paleoclimatic reconstruction


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