Paleolake and Paleoclimate Research - Taylor Valley, Antarctica
Soluble Salt Distributions
Salts found in the soils of Taylor Valley are thought to have been affected by the growth of West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and proglacial Lake Washburn during the LGM. It is speculated by several authors that WAIS blocked the mouth of Taylor Valley, forming a large valley-wide paleolake, proglacial Lake Washburn, to a maximum elevation of 350 m. The extent and timing of Lake Washburn in Taylor Valley has important implications for the paleoclimate both during and after the LGM, the response of WAIS to deglacial sea level rise, and past hydrologic regimes in Taylor Valley.
Our research on the distribution of salts in Taylor Valley suggests that Lake Washburn was much less extensive than previously thought, filling the valley to a maximum elevation of 120 m, and was controlled by major valley thresholds at 80 and 120 m elevation. In contrast to previous authors, we believe that a lobe of WAIS entered deep into Taylor Valley, as far as the present location of the Suess Glacier, and that proglacial Lake Washburn formed well into deglaciation.
Figure 2 Above is a satalite image of Taylor Valley, showing pits sampled during the 2006-2007 Antarctic field seasons.
More About Salts
Basin, spikes in
salt content indicate evapoconcentration of lake water near paleolake
margins. Similar spikes are found in Fryxell Basin at 80 and 120
Salt can also be redistributed across the landscape though wind-blown material, leaching, and evapoconcentration at the margins of lakes. This work indicates that these reditribution processes produce regional diferences in salt content.