The Bigstick and Seward Sand Hills are possibly two of the oldest dune fields within the late Wisconsin glaciated regions of the Northern Great Plains. As with most Northern Great Plains dune fields, source sediments are former proglacial outwash sands. Thus, Holocene dune construction is primarily related to spatial–temporal variations in surface cover and transport capacity, rather than renewed sediment input. However, eolian landscape reconstructions on the Northern Great Plains have been temporally constrained to recent periods of activity, as older episodes of deposition are typically reworked by younger events. In this study, sediment cores from shallow lacustrine basins and interdune areas provide an improved record of Holocene eolian sand deposition. Eolian sand accumulation in the interdunes and basins occurred between 150 and 270 years ago, 1.9 and 3.0 ka, 5.4 and 8.6 ka, and prior to ca. 10.8 ka. These episodes of sand accumulation were bracketed by lacustrine deposition and soil formation, which represented wetter conditions. Other than mid-Holocene dune activity, which may be related to peak warmth and aridity, most periods of eolian sand accumulation coincided with cooler but drier climatic events such as the Younger Dryas, late-Holocene cooling prior to the Medieval Climatic Anomaly, and the ‘Little Ice Age’. These depositional episodes are also spatially represented by other dune fields in the region, providing a broad-scale view of the connections between past climatic events and eolian landscape evolution on the Northern Great Plains.

Additional Metadata
Keywords climate variability, eolian dune activity, Northern Great Plains, optical dating
Persistent URL
Journal Holocene
Wolfe, S.A, Lian, O.B. (Olav B), Hugenholtz, C.H. (Christopher H), & Riches, J.R. (Justine R). (2017). Holocene eolian sand deposition linked to climatic variability, Northern Great Plains, Canada. Holocene, 27(4), 579–593. doi:10.1177/0959683616670223