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  1. Abstract Analysis of patterns of faulting and hydrogeology, stratigraphic and sedimentologic studies, and luminescence dating of aeolian deposits in China Lake basin provide new perspectives on the origins and development of Late Holocene dunes and sand ramps in the seismically active Indian Wells Valley of eastern California. Aeolian dune and sand sheet deposits were sourced from alluvial material derived from granitic rocks of the south-eastern Sierra Nevada and are concentrated in areas with sand-stabilizing phreatophyte vegetation influenced by high groundwater levels along the active oblique-normal Little Lake and Paxton Ranch faults, which locally form barriers to groundwater flow. Three episodes of sand accumulation are recognized (2.1 ± 0.1 to 2.0 ± 0.1 ka, 1.8 ± 0.2 to 1.6 ± 0.2 ka, and 1.2 ± 0.1 to 0.9 ± 0.1 ka) during conditions in which sediment supplied to the basin during periods of enhanced rainfall and runoff was subsequently reworked by wind into dunes and sand ramps at the transition to more arid periods. Understanding the role tectonics plays in influencing the hydrogeology of seismically active lake basins provides insights to accurately interpret landscape evolution and any inferences made on past hydroclimate variability in a region.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. Abstract We examine the Holocene loess record in the Heye Catchment on the margins of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) and China Loess Plateau (CLP) to determine: the region to which the Heye Catchment climate is more similar; temporal change in wind strength; and modification of the loess record by mass wasting and human activity. Luminescence and radiocarbon dating demonstrate loess deposited in two periods: >11–8.6 ka and <5.1 ka. The 8.6–5.1 ka depositional hiatus, which coincides with the Mid-Holocene Climatic Optimum, is more similar to the loess deposition cessation in the TP than to the loess deposition deceleration in the CLP. Grain-size analysis suggests the Heye loess is a mixture of at least three different grain-size distributions and that it may derive from multiple sources. A greater proportion of coarse sediments in the older loess may indicate stronger winds compared with the more recent depositional period. Gravel incorporated into younger loess most likely comes from bedrock exposed in slump scarps. Human occupation of the catchment, for which the earliest evidence is 3.4 ka, postdates the onset of slumping; thus the slumps may have created a livable environment for humans.
  3. Soil mixing over long (>102y) timescales enhances nutrient fluxes that support soil ecology, contributes to dispersion of sediment and contaminated material, and modulates fluxes of carbon through Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon reservoir. Despite its foundational importance, we lack robust understanding of the rates and patterns of soil mixing, largely due to a lack of long-timescale data. Here we demonstrate that luminescence, a light-sensitive property of minerals used for geologic dating, can be used as a long-timescale sediment tracer in soils to reveal the structure of soil mixing. We develop a probabilistic model of transport and mixing of tracer particles and associated luminescence in soils and compare with a global compilation of luminescence versus depth in various locations. The model–data comparison reveals that soil mixing rate varies over the soil depth, with this depth dependency persisting across climate and ecological zones. The depth dependency is consistent with a model in which mixing intensity decreases linearly or exponentially with depth, although our data do not resolve between these cases. Our findings support the long-suspected idea that depth-dependent mixing is a spatially and temporally persistent feature of soils. Evidence for a climate control on the patterns and intensities of soil mixing with depthmore »remains elusive and requires the further study of soil mixing processes.

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  4. Seven proposals recently funded by the National Science Foundation will ensure more access to laboratories that specialize in geochronology.
  5. Radiocarbon dating of the earliest occupational phases at the Cooper’s Ferry site in western Idaho indicates that people repeatedly occupied the Columbia River basin, starting between 16,560 and 15,280 calibrated years before the present (cal yr B.P.). Artifacts from these early occupations indicate the use of unfluted stemmed projectile point technologies before the appearance of the Clovis Paleoindian tradition and support early cultural connections with northeastern Asian Upper Paleolithic archaeological traditions. The Cooper’s Ferry site was initially occupied during a time that predates the opening of an ice-free corridor (≤14,800 cal yr B.P.), which supports the hypothesis that initial human migration into the Americas occurred via a Pacific coastal route.