Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


A 37,000-year record of paleomagnetic and environmental magnetic variability from Burial Lake, Arctic Alaska Public Deposited

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  • Burial Lake sediments from the Noatak Basin in the northwest Brooks Range of Arctic Alaska (68.43°N, 159.17°W, 21.5 m water depth) provide the oldest continuous lacustrine record of paleo-environmental change and paleomagnetic secular variation (PSV) in eastern Beringia. A precise radiocarbon chronology, determined through accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) allows us to independently constrain the region's climatic and geomagnetic evolution over the last ~37,000 years. Progressive alternating field (AF) demagnetization of u-channel samples and additionally acquired physical, geochemical, and rock-magnetic datasets, reveal three distinct lithologic subunits associated with the last glacial period (37.2 - 19.4 ka), the deglacial transition (19.4 - 9.8 ka), and the Holocene (9.8 ka - present). Rock magnetic variability suggests changes in sediment provenance associated with the transition from glacial to interglacial conditions. This is interpreted to result from a variable flux of aeolian derived sediment, and is supported by complimentary internal proxy data from Burial Lake. Other regional paleoclimate data, various glacial chronologies for the Brooks Range, and a relative sea level reconstruction facilitate a discussion of possible local, widespread, and far-field sources of dust, and the time-dependency of potential forcing mechanisms governing its production, availability, transport, and deposition. Results indicate an overall reduction in dust input from the glacial period to the Holocene that is largely attributed to increases in terrestrial and aquatic productivity, warming, and moisture availability, which limited widespread landscape deflation and production of dust. Subaerial continental shelves may have provided significant far-field sources of dust to interior Alaska during the glacial period, that were shut off by sea level inundation following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; 19 - 26.5 ka), further contributing to diminishing dust emissions. While glacial activity in the Brooks Range may provide local revenue of dust, activation of those deposits and timing of deposition in Burial Lake often appears to be more directly linked with general aridity, lack of vegetative cover, and increased windiness, rather than glacial advances or retreats. Despite this lithologic complexity, we isolate a stable, single-component characteristic remanent magnetization, carried predominately by low-coercivity (titano)magnetite in the pseudo single-domain (PSD) to multi-domain (MD) magnetic grain size range. We reconstruct directional paleomagnetic secular variation (PSV) over the full length of the record, and relative paleointensity (RPI) for the last ~14,700 years, which are consistent with available regional PSV records and continuous spherical harmonic model outputs. We observe only small deviations from geocentric axial dipole (GAD) predictions during the Holocene, while larger amplitude directional features are prevalent before 10 ka, and inclinations lay significantly shallower than GAD. While this may be related to lithology and the sediment magnetic acquisition process, regional records (including those derived from lava flows) indicate similar Holocene-Pleistocene discrepancies. Following on the "eccentric dipole" hypothesis, subdued secular variation and GAD-like behavior in the Pacific appears confined to the Holocene high-intensity state, showing greater variability as Pleistocene field strength diminishes, and/or the dipole axis is shifted away from the Pacific hemisphere. Long period trends in PSV from in the Alaskan Arctic are also similar in character to far-field sites (e.g., Hawaii and Siberia), suggesting large-scale coherent core-fluid flow regimes, expressed over surface geographical extents >5,000 km, and spanning Holocene-Pleistocene time intervals. The well-dated Burial Lake record fills a significant data gap in the growing Holocene paleomagnetic database, while allowing us to extend our understanding of PSV beyond the Holocene and into the Pleistocene, and continue the development of regional stratigraphic dating curves.
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