Faculty Publications


Landscape evolution, post-LGM surface denudation and soil weathering processes from Dickinson Park mire, Wind River Range, Wyoming (USA)

Document Type



Climate, Erosion, Landscape evolution, Wind River Mountains

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At mid-latitudes, the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene was characterised by distinct and partially abrupt climatic changes. Also during the Holocene, climatic perturbations, with sometimes cold-dry conditions, have occurred. How land surfaces and soil development processes in high-mountains respond to these climatic oscillations is so far only poorly known. We traced the responses of surfaces in the alpine settings of the Wind River Range (Wyoming, US) by using a large mire as natural archive. This enabled us to reconstruct environmental conditions and ecosystem changes during the Holocene in this montane area. Although adjacent moraine deposits display 10Be exposure ages from the Last Glacial Maximum up to MIS16 or even older, the accessible sediment deposits covered only the Holocene (via radiocarbon dating). By applying a geoforensic approach and deriving sedimentation rates, major climatic signals were detected. A higher deposition (and consequently erosion) rate and thus a higher rate of geomorphic activity was measured for the known cold periods 9.4–10.2 ka BP, 4.2 ka BP and 2.5 ka BP. During the LIA, especially rapid aggradation of organic matter organic matter took place here. Rates of chemical weathering and soil formation seem to have been relatively low until about 5–6 ka BP but have since increased during the Late Holocene. This would fit previous observations of increasing moisture conditions after the mid-Holocene aridity period. In contrast to several other studies, no clear signs of major disturbances (erosion, weathering) during the 8.2 ka event could be observed. Together with the low levels of chemical weathering found here, we do not see any evidence that the climate was more humid during this period. Compared to previous findings, more humid conditions seemed to have returned earlier, i.e. about 5 kyr BP. In general, this landscape displayed a patchy pattern of reaction to environmental changes, as all events were not recorded in each mire profile.


Department of Geography

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