A multi-proxy lake-sediment record of middle through late Holocene hydroclimate change in southern British Columbia, Canada

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Analysis of the oxygen isotopic composition (δ18O) of sedimentary carbonates in Turquoise Lake (N50.83°, W121.69°, 807 m), southwestern British Columbia, provides information on middle through late Holocene hydroclimate variability at decadal-scale temporal resolution. Turquoise Lake water balance is strongly influenced by cold season precipitation and to a lesser extent by warm season evaporation. The lake water isotopic signature falls along the local evaporation line and is slightly enriched relative to local meteoric water, indicating that water losses from the lake occur principally through overflow and groundwater outseepage. An age model was developed using 210Pb, 137Cs, twelve 14C measurements, and one tephra layer. 375 samples of authigenic carbonate (< 63 µm-fraction), collected at 2–10 mm intervals over a 3 m long sediment sequence, were analyzed to produce the δ18O record. Multiple turbidite sequences that complicate the δ18O signal were identified via X-ray fluorescence, magnetic susceptibility, scanning electron microscopy, and powder x-ray diffraction analysis and were removed from the record. The Turquoise Lake δ18O record exhibits anomalously high values at ~ 7.6–6.5 ka, implying a dry middle Holocene and a transition to a wetter climate in the late-middle through late Holocene, with substantial variability on decadal and longer timescales. This result is consistent with other records from the Pacific Northwest, but the magnitude and timing of the transition from dry to wet conditions exhibited by the Turquoise δ18O record is unusual, with only the Castor Lake δ18O record exhibiting a somewhat similar pattern. Differences in hydroclimate signals from δ18O and other records in the Pacific Northwest point to complex intra-regional responses to Pacific ocean–atmosphere dynamics likely related to disparity in the orographic settings of the paleoclimate archives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-182
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by funding from National Science Foundation (Grant # 1447048) to the University of Minnesota Duluth. We thank the Ministry of Environment - BC Parks and Marble Canyon Provincial Park for permission and assistance in obtaining sediment core and water samples as well as Lino Razui, Cole Webster, and Kelcy Huston for their assistance in the lab, and Laura Cappio for her assistance in the field.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • British Columbia
  • Holocene
  • Hydroclimate
  • Lake sediment
  • Oxygen isotopes


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