A stable isotope record of late Quaternary hydrologic change in the north-western Brooks Range, Alaska (eastern Beringia)

A.L. King, L. Anderson, Mark B. Abbott, M. Edwards, M.S. Finkenbinder, B. Finney, M.J. Wooller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A submillennial-resolution record of lake water oxygen isotope composition (δ 18O) from chironomid head capsules is presented from Burial Lake, north-west Alaska. The record spans the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ~20–16k cal a bp) to the present and shows a series of large lake δ 18O shifts (~5‰). Relatively low δ 18O values occurred during a period covering the LGM, when the lake was a shallow, closed-basin pond. Higher values characterize deglaciation (~16–11.5k cal a bp) when the lake was still closed but lake levels were higher. A rapid decline between ~11 and 10.5k cal a bp indicates that lake levels rose to overflowing. Lake δ 18O values are interpreted to reflect the combined effects of changes in lake hydrology, growing season temperature and meteoric source water as well as large-scale environmental changes impacting this site, including opening of the Bering Strait and shifts in atmospheric circulation patterns related to ice-sheet dynamics. The results indicate significant shifts in precipitation minus evaporation across the late Pleistocene to early Holocene transition, which are consistent with temporal patterns of vegetation change and paludification. This study provides new perspectives on the paleohydrology of eastern Beringia concomitant with human migration and major turnover in megafaunal assemblages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
StatePublished - Sep 21 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for the production of this paper was provided by NSF awards (ARC‐0909523 to Wooller) to Wooller, a DOE‐NETL award to Wooller (DE‐NT000565) and International Polar Year (UAF) funding awarded to A. King (formerly A. Booth). Funding for core collection was provided by the National Science Foundation grant No. 9707625 to M. Abbott. We thank Paul Cutler and Gordon Macintosh for assistance in the field. We thank Dr Jason Addison, Dr Carl Benson, Dr Sean Brennan, Dr Benjamin Gaglioti and Dr Byron Steinman for discussions that improved this study. Any use of trade, firm or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the US Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • Alaska
  • Beringia
  • chironomids
  • lake hydrology
  • stable isotopes

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • AKA


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