Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geography and Geology

Committee Chair

Grant L. Harley

Committee Chair Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 2

Franklin T. Heitmuller

Committee Member 2 Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 3

George T. Raber

Committee Member 3 Department

Geography and Geology


A new multi-millennial tree-ring record from living and remnant Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum, Sarg.) wood from Candelaria in west-central New Mexico is used to determine the temporal and spatial variability of scPDSI over the past two millennia (B.C. 492 to A.D. 2014). Our record indicates extreme drought events found within other hydroclimatic proxy records in the Colorado Plateau region spanning the time period (16th century and 2nd century megadroughts). By ranking the extreme drought events by magnitude, duration, intensity, and overall score, the most extreme drought events of this record are compared to drought events illustrated within the proxy records of the region. Our new record contains a 100-year drought period, 850–950 A.D. not documented within these records. We hypothesize that this drought period is equally severe as the 2nd century and 16th century droughts and was restricted to the southern portions of the Colorado Plateau and in low elevation areas of the region. Published hydroclimatic research help designate the severity of these drought events, and our findings suggest that the American Southwest should anticipate comparable drought events in the predicted warmer and drier future.