Late-Glacial and Holocene Lake-Level Fluctuations on the Kenai Lowland, Reconstructed from Satellite-Fen Peat Deposits and Ice-Shoved Ramparts, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

Edward Elling Berg, Darrell S. Kaufman, R. Scott Anderson, Gregory C. Wiles, Thomas V. Lowell, Edaward A.D. Mitchell, Feng Sheng Hu, Alan Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent decades of warmer climate have brought drying wetlands and falling lake levels to southern Alaska. These recent changes can be placed into a longer-term context of postglacial lake-level fluctuations that include low stands that were as much as 7 m lower than present at eight lakes on the Kenai Lowland. Closed-basin lakes on the Kenai Lowland are typically ringed with old shorelines, usually as wave-cut scarps, cut several meters above modern lake levels; the scarps formed during deglaciation at 25–19 ka in a kettle moraine topography on the western Kenai Lowland. These high-water stands were followed by millennia of low stands, when closed-basin lake levels were drawn down by 5–10 m or more. Peat cores from satellite fens near or adjoining the eight closed-basin lakes show that a regional lake level rise was underway by at least 13.4 ka. At Jigsaw Lake, a detailed study of 23 pairs of overlapping sediment cores, seismic profiling, macrofossil analysis, and 58 AMS radiocarbon dates reveal rapidly rising water levels at 9–8 ka that caused large slabs of peat to slough off and sink to the lake bottom. These slabs preserve an archive of vegetation that had accumulated on a lakeshore apron exposed during the preceding drawdown period. They also preserve evidence of a brief period of lake level rise at 4.7–4.5 ka. We examined plant succession using in situ peat sequences in nine satellite fens around Jigsaw Lake that indicated increased effective moisture between 4.6 and 2.5 ka synchronous with the lake level rise. Mid-to late-Holocene lake high stands in this area are recorded by numerous ice-shoved ramparts (ISRs) along the shores. ISRs at 15 lakes show that individual ramparts typically record several shove events, separated by hundreds or thousands of years. Most ISRs date to within the last 5200 years and it is likely that older ISRs were erased by rising lake levels during the mid-to late Holocene. This study illustrates how data on vegetation changes in hydrologically coupled satellite-fen peat records can be used to constrain the water level histories in larger adjacent lakes. We suggest that this method could be more widely utilized for paleo-lake level reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number23
JournalQuaternary
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Holocene
  • hydroclimate
  • ice-shoved rampart
  • Kenai Lowland
  • lake level change
  • paleoclimatology
  • peat
  • south-central Alaska

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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