Palynological evidence for early Holocene aridity in the southern Sierra Nevada, California

Owen K. Davis, R. Scott Anderson, Patricia L. Fall, Mary K. O'Rourke, Robert S. Thompson

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53 Scopus citations


Sediments of Balsam Meadow have produced a 11,000-yr pollen record from the southern Sierra Nevada of California. The Balsam Meadow diagram is divided into three zones. (1) The Artemisia zone (11,000-7000 yr B.P.) is characterized by percentages of sagebrush (Artemisia) and other nonarboreal pollen higher than can be found in the modern local vegetation. Vegetation during this interval was probably similar to the modern vegetation on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada and the climate was drier than that of today. (2) Pinus pollen exceeded 80% from 7000 to 3000 yr B.P. in the Pinus zone. The climate was moister than during the Artemisia zone. (3) Fir (Abies, Cupressaceae, and oak (Quercus) percentages increased after 3000 yr B.P. in the Abies zone as the modern vegetation at the site developed and the present cool-moist climatic regime was established. Decreased fire frequency after 1200 yr B.P. is reflected in decreased abundance of macroscopic charcoal and increased concentration of Abies magnifica and Pinus murrayana needles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-332
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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