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Bear Lake Scientific Drilling Project

Bear Lake Drilling scientific drilling

Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho

Scientific Drilling Project by DOSECC Core Drilling Services

Joseph G. Rosenbaum, Walter E. Dean, and Marith C. Reheis USGS, Denver, CO

Jordon Bright, Darrell S. Kaufman, R. Scott Anderson, and Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno Northern Arizona University

Steven M. Colman Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota, Duluth

Clifford W. Heil, Jr. University of Rhode Island

Joseph P. Smoot USGS, Reston, VA

Lisa A. Doner Plymouth State University

Katrina Moser University of Western Ontario 

Bear Lake is located 100 km northeast of Salt Lake City and lies along the course of the Bear River, the largest river in the Great Basin. The lake, which is one of the oldest extant lakes in North America, occupies a tectonically active half-graben and contains hundreds of meters of Quaternary sediment. In 1996 a group led by the late Kerry Kelts (University of Minnesota) and Robert Thompson (U.S. Geological Survey) acquired three Kullenburg piston cores (4 to 5 m long) from Bear Lake. The coring arose from their recognition of Bear Lake as a potential repository of long records of paleoenvironmental change. They recognized that the lake is located in an area that is sensitive to changes in regional climate patterns, that the lake basin is long lived, and that, unlike many lakes in the Great Basin, Bear Lake was never dry during warm dry periods.

Bear Lake Drilling

Figure 1 – Comparison of carbonate-mineral content in the 120-m section of Bear Lake sediments penetrated by GLAD800 coring and oxygen isotope values (δ18O) based on SPECMAP. Weight % CaCO3 is based on total inorganic carbon and the proportion of calcite and aragonite is based on X-ray diffraction peak heights. δ18O values are in standard deviation units.

Paleoenvironmental studies of the Bear Lake sediment were conducted under the Western Lake/Catchment Systems Project of the USGS (funded by the USGS Earth Surface Dynamics Program). Initially, paleoenvironmental studies of Bear Lake focused on the three Kullenburg cores, which spanned the last ~30,000 years. Additional coring was conducted to elucidate the spatial distribution of sedimentary units. The study was also expanded to include extensive study of the catchment, including the properties of catchment materials and the processes that could potentially affect the delivery of catchment materials to the lake.

During 2000, DOSECC needed to test the newly developed GLAD800 drilling platform on suitable sites in the vicinity of Salt Lake City prior to shipping the platform to remote locations. Following initial testing in the shallow waters of Great Salt Lake, the GLAD800 platform was transported to Bear Lake where it was tested in deeper water (>50 m). The cost of drilling on Bear Lake was split equally between the USGS and NSF. Coring was extremely successful with nearly 100% recovery. Two cores, acquired near the lake’s depocenter (100 m and 120 m in length), extend the Bear Lake record over three glacial/interglacial cycles (about a quarter-million years).

Responses of the lake and catchment to climate change include intermittent disconnection from the Bear River, alternation between siliciclastic sedimentation (including glacial flour) and endogenic carbonate sedimentation (with aragonite forming during the driest intervals), and changes in stable isotopes, diatoms, and pollen. Although the lake underwent major changes in lake level, it did not dry out or become highly saline over the last several hundred thousand years. As a consequence of its relatively stable hydrology, the lake developed endemic populations of fish and ostracodes. Many of the results of this study are presented in Geological Society of America Special Paper 450, “Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment”.

Bear Lake Drilling1

Figure 2 – Bear Lake, Utah

References (*indicates that report contains information from GLAD800 core)

*Initial Reports of the Global Lake Drilling Program, Volume 1: GLAD1: Great Salt Lake, Utah, and Bear Lake, Utah/Idaho – Edited by D. Schnurrenberger and B. Haskell. (NOTE: This is a CD put out by the Limnological Research Center, University of Minnesota.)

*Dean, W.E, Rosenbaum, J.G, Haskell, B., Kelts, K., Schnurrenberger, D.,Valero-Garcés, B., Cohen, A., Davis, O., Dinter, D., and Nielson, D., 2002, Progress in Global Lake Drilling holds potential for Global Change research, EOS (Trans. American Geophysical Union), v. 83, p. 85, 90, 91.

*Colman, S.M., 2006, Acoustic stratigraphy of Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho—Late Quaternary sedimentation in a simple half-graben: Sedimentary Geology, v. 185, p. 113–125.

*Bright, J., Kaufman, D.S., Forester, R.M., and Dean, W.E., 2006, A continuous 250,000 yr record of oxygen and carbon isotopes in ostracode and bulk-sediment carbonate from Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho: Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 25, no. 17-18, p. 2258–2270.

*Colman, S.M, Kaufman, D.S., Bright, J., Heil, C., King, J.W., Dean, W.E., Rosenbaum, J.G., R.M. Forester, R.M., Bischoff, J.L., Perkins, M., McGeehin, J.P., 2006, Age model for a continuous, ca 250-kyr Quaternary lacustrine record from Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho, USA: Quaternary Science Reviews.

*Jiménez-Moreno, G., Anderson, R.S., and Fawcett, P.J., 2007, Orbital- and millennial-scale vegetation and climate changes of the past 225 ka from Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho (USA): Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 26, p. 1713–1724.

*Rosenbaum, J.G. and Kaufman, D.S., 2009, Introduction to Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment, in Rosenbaum, J.G., and Kaufman, D.S., eds., Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment: Geological Society of America Special Paper 450, pp. v – xiii.

*Dean, W.E.,, 2009, Endogenic carbonate sedimentation in Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, over the last two glacial-interglacial cycles, in Rosenbaum, J.G., and Kaufman, D.S., eds., Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment: Geological Society of America Special Paper 450, pp. 169 – 196.

*Rosenbaum, J.G., and Heil Jr, C.W., 2009, The glacial/deglacial history of sedimentation in Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, in Rosenbaum, J.G., and Kaufman, D.S., eds., Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment: Geological Society of America Special Paper 450, pp. 247 – 262.

*Heil Jr., C.W., King, J.W., Rosenbaum, J.G., Reynolds, R.L., and Steven M. Colman, S.M., 2009, Paleomagnetism and environmental magnetism of GLAD800 sediment cores from Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, in Rosenbaum, J.G., and Kaufman, D.S., eds., Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment: Geological Society of America Special Paper 450, pp. 291 – 310.

*Kaufman, D.S., Bright, J., Dean, W.E., Rosenbaum, J.G., Moser, K., Anderson, R.S., Colman, S.M., Heil Jr., C.W., Gonzalo Jiménez-Moreno, G., Reheis, M.C., and Simmons, K.R., 2009, A quarter-million years of paleoenvironmental change at Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, in Rosenbaum, J.G., and Kaufman, D.S., eds., Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment: Geological Society of America Special Paper 450, pp. 311 – 351.

Abstracts:

*Rosenbaum, J., Dean, W., Honke, J., Skipp, G., Haskell, B., Schnurrenberger, D., Kelts, K., Palacios-Fest, M., Nielson, D., 2000, GLAD800 Drilling in Bear Lake, Utah/Idaho, Eos, v. 81, p. F709.

*Rosenbaum, J.G., Dean, W.E., Bright, J., Colman, S.M., Bischoff, J.L., Anderson, S.R., Forester, R.M., Kaufman, D.S., 2001, Climate record in a 240 kyr sediment core from Bear Lake, Utah/Idaho, Eos, v. 82, F756.

*Heil, C.W., King, J.W., Rosenbaum, J.G., 2001, Paleomagnetic chronology and mineral magnetic proxies of lake level for Bear Lake, Utah/Idaho, Eos, v. 82, F336-337.

*Dean, W.E., Bischoff, J.L., Forester, R.M., Rosenbaum, J.G., Simmons, K.R., and Skipp, G.L., Glacial-interglacial contrasts in carbonate sedimentation in Bear Lake Utah/Idaho – downstream recorder of Pacific climate, 2002, Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Abstracts with Programs, p. 292.

*Dean, W.E., and Rosenbaum, J.G., 2003, GLAD800 coring on Bear Lake, Utah/Idaho, Third Annual Limnogeology Congress Abstract Volume, p. 71.

Rosenbaum, J.G., Dean, W.E., and S M Colman 2003, The glacial to Holocene transition in sediments from Bear Lake, Utah/Idaho, XVI INQUA Congress Programs with Abstracts, p. 163.

*Colman, S.M., Kaufman, D.S., Bright, J., Heil, C., King, J.W., Dean, W.E., Rosenbaum, J.G., Forester, R.M., Bischoff, J.L., Perkins, M., McGeehin, J.P., 2004, Age Model for a continuous 250-kyr Quaternary lacustrine record from Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho, Eos v. 85, abstract PP33B-0929.

*Kaufman, D.S., Anderson, R.S., Bright, J., Colman, S. M., Dean, W.E., Forester, R.M., Heil, C. W., Moser, K., Rosenbaum, J.G., and Simmons, K.R., 2005, Multi-proxy evidence for environmental change during the last two glacial-interglacial cycles from core BL00-1, Bear Lake, Utah-Idaho, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 37, No. 7, p. 336.