Stable Isotopes in Precipitation and Ground Water In the Yucca Mountain Region, Southern Nevada: Paleoclimatic Implications

  1. David H. Peterson
  1. Larry Benson1 and
  2. Harold Klieforth2

Published Online: 23 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM055p0041

Aspects of Climate Variability in the Pacific and the Western Americas

Aspects of Climate Variability in the Pacific and the Western Americas

How to Cite

Benson, L. and Klieforth, H. (1989) Stable Isotopes in Precipitation and Ground Water In the Yucca Mountain Region, Southern Nevada: Paleoclimatic Implications, in Aspects of Climate Variability in the Pacific and the Western Americas (ed D. H. Peterson), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM055p0041

Author Information

  1. 1

    Interdisciplinary Climate Systems Grouproom 135, National Center of Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Co 80307

  2. 2

    Atmospheric Sciences Center, Desert Research Institutereno, Nv 89506

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 23 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900728

Online ISBN: 9781118664285

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Keywords:

  • Climatic changes—Pacific Area.;
  • Paleoclimatology—Pacific Area.;
  • Climatic changes—West (U.S.);
  • Paleoclimatology—West (U.S.);
  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Summary

Unadjusted ages of ground-water samples indicate that most recharge in the Yucca Mountain and Amargosa Desert areas of southern Nevada may have occurred between 18,500 and 9000 years before present. Comparison of the stable-isotope (δ18O-δD) concentrations in this water with stable-isotope concentrations in precipitation in the southern Nevada area indicates that ground-water recharge occurred by infiltration of coldseason precipitation. Infiltration of snowmelt along the bottom of Forty mile Canyon seems to be the most likely recharge mechanism for Yucca Mountain ground water. Ground-water recharge in southern Nevada was nearly synchronous with the last lake cycle in the Lahontan basin in northern Nevada. This regional-scale change in the hydrologic balance occurred during the transition from maximum-glacial to interglacial conditions and was associated with a change in the location of the air-parcel moisture-source region in the eastern Pacific Ocean and with a warming of the climate between 18,500 and 9000 years before present. In the study area the temperature of condensation of precipitation that infiltrated to the water table increased by about 5 °C. The warming trend also contributed to the recession of mountain glaciers in northern Nevada. Recent atmospheric global climate model simulations provide an integrating theory that accounts for the near synchroneity of ice sheet, lake, and ground-water cycles. In the model the position and persistence of the Jetstream, which is associated with the progression of maximum effective precipitation, is substantially affected by the size and shape of the continental ice sheet.