A 35,000 Year Vegetation and Climate History from Potato Lake, Mogollon Rim, Arizona

R. Scott Anderson

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78 Scopus citations


A new record from Potato Lake, central Arizona, details vegetation and climate changes since the mid-Wisconsin for the southern Colorado Plateau. Recovery of a longer record, discrimination of pine pollen to species groups, and identification of macrofossil remains extend Whiteside's (1965) original study. During the mid-Wisconsin (ca. 35,000-21,000 yr B.P.) a mixed forest of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) and other conifers grew at the site, suggesting a minimum elevational vegetation depression of ca. 460 m. Summer temperatures were as much as 5°C cooler than today. During the late Wisconsin (ca. 21,000-10,400 yr B.P.), even-cooler temperatures (7°C colder than today; ca. 800 m depression) allowed Engelmann spruce alone to predominate. Warming by ca. 10,400 yr B.P. led to the establishment of the modern ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forest. Thus, the mid-Wisconsin was not warm enough to support ponderosa pine forests in regions where the species predominates today. Climatic estimates presented here are consistent with other lines of evidence suggesting a cool and/or wet mid-Wisconsin, and a cold and/or wet late-Wisconsin climate for much of the Southwest. Potato Lake was almost completely dry during the mid-Holocene, but lake levels increased to near modern conditions by ca. 3000 yr B.P.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-359
Number of pages9
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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