Capture of high-altitude precipitation by a low-altitude Eocene lake, western U.S

Alan R. Carroll, Amalia C. Doebbert, Amanda L. Booth, C. Page Chamberlain, Meredith K. Rhodes-Carson, M. Elliot Smith, Clark M. Johnson, Brian L. Beard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Sedimentary facies of the Eocene Green River Formation reflect a rapid increase in water supply to Lake Gosiute ca. 49 Ma, marked by a stratigraphic fill-to-spill surface. Deposits below this surface constitute repetitive lacustrine expansion-desiccation cycles, whereas those above consist of continuous profundal lacustrine mudstone, grading upward into volcaniclastic deltaic sandstone. Above the fill-to-spill surface, calcitic mudstone δ18O decreases from ∼+26‰ to +20‰ over an interval representing ∼100 k.y. We interpret this shift to have resulted from capture of a foreland river (or rivers) that drained higher topography north of Lake Gosiute, most likely in north-central Idaho. Accurate paleoelevation estimates derived from stable isotopic records in intermontane basins thus may require detailed knowledge of regional drainage systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-794
Number of pages4
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbonate
  • Drainage
  • Green River Formation
  • Lacustrine
  • Laramide
  • Paleoaltimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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