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J.A. Mason

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The climatic controls on dune mobility, especially the relative importance of wind strength, remain incompletely understood. This is a key research problem in semi-arid northern China, both for interpreting past dune activity as evidence of paleoclimate and for predicting future environmental change. Potential eolian sand transport, which is approximately proportional to wind power above the threshold for sand entrainment, has decreased across much of northern China since the 1970s. Over the same period, effective moisture (ratio of precipitation to potential evapotranspiration) has not changed significantly. This "natural experiment" provides insight on the relative importance of wind power as a control on dune...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Geomorphology
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Wind-blown sands were mobile at many sites along the desert margin in northern China during the early Holocene (11.5-8 ka ago), based on extensive new numerical dating. This mobility implies low effective moisture at the desert margin, in contrast to growing evidence for greater than modern monsoon precipitation at the same time in central and southern China. Dry conditions in the early Holocene at the desert margin can be explained through a dynamic link between enhanced diabatic heating in the core region of the strengthened monsoon and increased subsidence in drylands to the north, combined with high evapotranspiration rates due to high summer temperatures. After 8 ka ago, as the monsoon weakened and lower temperatures...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Geology
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This paper draws on recent optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating to evaluate the long-held assumption that dust accumulation rates in the Loess Plateau and the extent of active aeolian sand in the dunefields to the north have varied together over time, because both are controlled by the strength of the Asian monsoons and also possibly because the dunefields are proximal loess sources. The results show there is little evidence that high rates of loess accumulation coincided with well-dated episodes of extensive dune activity in the Mu Us, Otindag, and Horqin dunefields, at 11-8ka and 1-0ka. Explanations for the apparent lack of coupling include local variation in the trapping of dust and post-depositional...
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Various lines of evidence support conflicting interpretations of the timing, abruptness, and nature of climate change in the Great Plains during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Loess deposits and paleosols on both the central and northern Great Plains provide a valuable record that can help address these issues. A synthesis of new and previously reported optical and radiocarbon ages indicates that the Brady Soil, which marks the boundary between late Pleistocene Peoria Loess and Holocene Bignell Loess, began forming after a reduction in the rate of Peoria Loess accumulation that most likely occurred between 13.5 and 15 cal ka. Brady Soil formation spanned all or part of the B??lling-Aller??d episode (approximately...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Quaternary Science Reviews
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Stabilized dunes of the central Great Plains, especially the megabarchans and large barchanoid ridges of the Nebraska Sand Hills, provide dramatic evidence of late Quaternary environmental change. Episodic Holocene dune activity in this region is now well-documented, but Late Pleistocene dune mobility has remained poorly documented, despite early interpretations of the Sand Hills dunes as Pleistocene relicts. New optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages from drill cores and outcrops provide evidence of Late Pleistocene dune activity at sites distributed across the central Great Plains. In addition, Late Pleistocene eolian sands deposited at 20-25 ka are interbedded with loess south of the Sand Hills. Several...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Quaternary Science Reviews
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