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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

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
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006

Keywords

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

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