Late Wisconsin paleoecologic record from Swamp Lake, Yosemite National Park, California

Susan J. Smith, R. Scott Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


A 7.86-m sediment core from Swamp Lake in Yosemite National Park, California, provides a continuous record of environmental change over the last ca. 16,000 yr, as inferred from pollen, macrofossil, and microscopic charcoal analyses. The core stratigraphy documents late Wisconsin (Tioga stage) deglaciation between >16,000 and 13,700 yr B.P., approximately 6000-3500 yr earlier than higher-elevation Sierra Nevada records. The core includes five volcanic ash layers, chemically identified as four Mono Craters ashes and the Tsoyawata ash (Mt. Mazama, Oregon). The fossil record shows that herbs and sagebrush dominated the glacial environment at Swamp Lake. By 12,000 yr B.P., a mixed conifer forest composed of high- and mid-elevation conifers grew around the lake, suggesting a cool, wet late-glacial environment. The modern Sierra montane forest did not become established until ca. 10,400 yr B.P., when maximum charcoal concentrations and minimum fir pollen percentages indicate an early Holocene xeric period. The record suggests that a cooling trend began ca. 6500 yr B.P. and persisted until ca. 3700 yr B.P. when the modern climatic regime was established.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages12
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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