Late Quaternary Inland Dunes of Southern Louisiana and Arid Climate Phases in the Gulf Coast Region

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Thirty-five sand hills that form six scattered groups rise abruptly from the hat late Pleistocene coastal plain in southeastern Louisiana. New studies confirm their eolian origin. For the first time, several late Wisconsin to early Holocene episodes of arid climate conditions have been recognized and dated in this currently humid warm-temperate subtropical region. Periods of dune formation and reactivation (28,800 to 7900 yr B.P) were determined by the thermoluminescence method. The onset of the current climate in this Gulf coastal region postdates early Holocene time. The textural and structural homogeneity of the ridge lithosomes, good sorting of their sand fraction, and the dominantly orange hues of the dune sediments contrast with the underlying yellowish-brown to light-brown sandy silts and the well-stratified, occasionally gravelly sands of the underlying alluvial Prairie Formation. Sharply defined, unconformable ridge bases; symmetrical, oval, occasionally parabolic mound shapes; and steep slopes confirm the dune origins. The dominant orientations of ridges and ridge chains clearly reflect paleowind directions. Age comparison with dunes of the lower Mississippi Valley, the northeastern-eastern Gulf of Mexico coast, and south Atlantic coastal areas confirms the existence of at least seasonally dry climate conditions from early Wisconsin to middle Holocene times. The onset of the modem humid-subtropical climate phase in this region thus dates back only to the middle Holocene. (C) 2001 University of Washington.

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Quaternary Research





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