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  1. Searles Lake, California, was a saline-alkaline lake that deposited >25 non-clastic minerals that record the history of lake chemistry and regional climate. Here, the mineralogy and petrography from the late Pleistocene/Holocene (32−6 ka) portion of a new Searles Lake sediment core, SLAPP-SRLS17, is combined with thermodynamic models to determine the geochemical and paleoclimate conditions required to produce the observed mineral phases, sequences, and abundances. The models reveal that the primary precipitates formed by open system (i.e., fractional crystallization), whereas the early diagenetic salts formed by salinity-driven closed system back-reactions (i.e., equilibrium crystallization). For core SLAPP-SRLS17, the defining evaporite sequence trona → burkeite → halite indicates brine temperatures within a 20−29 °C range, implying thermally insulating lake depths >10 m during salt deposition. Evaporite phases reflect lake water pCO2 consistent with contemporaneous atmospheric values of ∼190−270 ppmv. However, anomalous layers of nahcolite and thenardite indicate pulses of pCO2 > 700−800 ppm, likely due to variable CO2 injection along faults. Core sedimentology indicates that Searles Lake was continuously perennial between 32 ka and 6 ka such that evaporite units reflect periods of net evaporation but never complete desiccation. Model simulations indicate that cycles of partial evaporation and dilution strongly influence long-term brinemore »evolution by amassing certain species, particularly Cl−, that only occur in late-stage soluble salts. A model incorporating long-term brine dynamics corrects previous mass-balance anomalies and shows that the late Pleistocene/Holocene (32−6 ka) salts are partially inherited from the solutes introduced into earlier lakes going back at least 150 ka.« less
  2. Abstract Halite precipitates in the Dead Sea during winter but re-dissolves above the thermocline upon summer warming, “focusing” halite deposition below the thermocline (Sirota et al., 2016, 2017, 2018). Here we develop an “evaporite focusing” model for evaporites (nahcolite + halite) preserved in a restricted area of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Creek Basin of Colorado, USA. Nahcolite solubility is dependent on partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) as well as temperature (T), so these models covary with both T and pCO2. In the lake that filled the Piceance Creek Basin, halite, nahcolite or mixtures of both could have precipitated during winter cooling, depending on the CO2 content in different parts of the lake. Preservation of these minerals occurs below the thermocline (>∼25 m) in deeper portions of the basin. Our modeling addresses both: (1) the restriction of evaporites in the Piceance Creek Basin to the center of the basin without recourse to later dissolution and (2) the variable mineralogy of the evaporites without recourse to changes in lake water chemistry. T from 20 to 30 °C and pCO2 between 1800 and 2800 ppm are reasonable estimates for the conditions in the Piceance Creek Basin paleolake. Othermore »evaporites occur in the center of basins but do not extend out to the edges of the basin. Evaporite focusing caused by summer-winter T changes in the solubility of the minerals should be considered for such deposits and variable pCO2 within the evaporating brines also needs to be considered if pCO2 sensitive minerals are found.« less
  3. Evidence for Quaternary climate change in East Africa has been derived from outcrops on land and lake cores and from marine dust, leaf wax, and pollen records. These data have previously been used to evaluate the impact of climate change on hominin evolution, but correlations have proved to be difficult, given poor data continuity and the great distances between marine cores and terrestrial basins where fossil evidence is located. Here, we present continental coring evidence for progressive aridification since about 575 thousand years before present (ka), based on Lake Magadi (Kenya) sediments. This long-term drying trend was interrupted by many wet–dry cycles, with the greatest variability developing during times of high eccentricity-modulated precession. Intense aridification apparent in the Magadi record took place between 525 and 400 ka, with relatively persistent arid conditions after 350 ka and through to the present. Arid conditions in the Magadi Basin coincide with the Mid-Brunhes Event and overlap with mammalian extinctions in the South Kenya Rift between 500 and 400 ka. The 525 to 400 ka arid phase developed in the South Kenya Rift between the period when the last Acheulean tools are reported (at about 500 ka) and before the appearance of Middle Stonemore »Age artifacts (by about 320 ka). Our data suggest that increasing Middle- to Late-Pleistocene aridification and environmental variability may have been drivers in the physical and cultural evolution ofHomo sapiensin East Africa.

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