The effects of recent uplift and volcanism on deposition in Mono Lake, California, from seismic-reflection (CHIRP) profiles

S. M. Colman, S. R. Hemming, S. Stine, S. R.H. Zimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


About 150km of high-resolution, seismic reflection (Compressed High-Intensity Radar Pulse) profiles (approximately 20m penetration) were collected in Mono Lake in order to define the uppermost sedimentary architecture of the basin, which has been heavily impacted by recent volcanic, tectonic, and climatic processes. The study also provides an important background for ongoing efforts to obtain paleoenvironmental records from sediment cores in the lake. The history of four seismic-stratigraphic units in the upper 20m of section are inferred from the data, and the interpretations are generally consistent with previous interpretations of lake history for the past 2000years, including a major lowstand at 1941m. No shorelines below the previously documented major lowstand at 1941m were found. A relatively steep slope segment, whose toe is at about 1918m, and which occurs on the southern and western margins of the deep basin of the lake, is interpreted as the relict foreset slope of deposition from prograding western tributaries. This topography is unconformably overlain by a unit of interbedded tephra and lake sediments of variable lithology, which contains tephra of the North Mono (600-625cal yr BP) eruption in its upper part. The tephra-rich unit is overlain by a mostly massive mudflow deposit that is locally more than 18m thick and that is distributed in a radial pattern around Paoha Island. The evidence suggests that within the past few hundred years, rapid uplift of Paoha Island through thick, preexisting lake deposits led to widespread slope failures, which created a terrain of disrupted, intact blocks near the island, and a thick, fluid mudflow beyond. As is common in mudflows, the mudflow moved up the depositional slope of the lake floor, terminating against the preexisting slopes, likely in multiple surges. Since about 1700 Common Era, fine-grained, well-laminated sediments have accumulated in the deep parts of the lake at anomalously rapid rates, probably driven by continued rapid, small-scale shedding of sediment from Paoha Island.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3955-3970
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Mono Lake
  • mudflows
  • paleolimnology
  • sediments
  • seismic reflection

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • CRAD


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