Early Holocene Great Salt Lake, USA

Charles G. Oviatt, David B. Madsen, David M. Miller, Robert S. Thompson, John P. McGeehin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Shorelines and surficial deposits (including buried forest-floor mats and organic-rich wetland sediments) show that Great Salt Lake did not rise higher than modern lake levels during the earliest Holocene (11.5-10.2calka BP; 10-914Cka BP). During that period, finely laminated, organic-rich muds (sapropel) containing brine-shrimp cysts and pellets and interbedded sodium-sulfate salts were deposited on the lake floor. Sapropel deposition was probably caused by stratification of the water column - a freshwater cap possibly was formed by groundwater, which had been stored in upland aquifers during the immediately preceding late-Pleistocene deep-lake cycle (Lake Bonneville), and was actively discharging on the basin floor. A climate characterized by low precipitation and runoff, combined with local areas of groundwater discharge in piedmont settings, could explain the apparent conflict between evidence for a shallow lake (a dry climate) and previously published interpretations for a moist climate in the Great Salt Lake basin of the eastern Great Basin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-68
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 University of Washington.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Early Holocene climate
  • Eastern Great Basin
  • Great Salt Lake
  • Radiocarbon dating
  • Sapropel

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • GLAD1


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