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Oneonta, NY, United States

Polyak V.J.,University of New Mexico | DuChene H.R.,2333 San Juan Dr. | Davis D.G.,441 S. Kearney St | Palmer A.N.,New York University | And 2 more authors.
International Journal of Speleology | Year: 2013

Uranium-series analyses of water-table-type speleothems from Glenwood Cavern and "cavelets" near the town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, USA, yield incision rates of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon for the last ~1.4 My. The incision rates, calculated from dating cave mammillary and cave folia calcite situated 65 and 90 m above the Colorado River, are 174 ± 30 m/My for the last 0.46 My and 144 ± 30 m/My for the last 0.62 My, respectively. These are consistent with incision rates determined from nearby volcanic deposits. In contrast, δ234U model ages (1.39 ± 0.25 My; 1.36 ± 0.25 My; and 1.72 ± 0.25 My) from three different samples of mammillary-like subaqueous crust collected from Glenwood Cavern, 375 m above the Colorado River, yield incision rates of 271 +58/-41 m/My, 277 +61/-42 m/ My, and 218 +36/-27 m/My. These data suggest a relatively fast incision rate between roughly 3 and 1 Ma. The onset of Pleistocene glaciation may have influenced this rate by increasing precipitation on the Colorado Plateau starting at 2.5 Ma. Slowing of incision just before 0.6 Ma could be related to the change in frequency of glacial cycles from 40 to 100 kyr in the middle Pleistocene. This interpretation would suggest that the cutting power of the Colorado River prior to 3 Ma was smaller. An alternative interpretation involving tectonic activity would invoke an episode of fast uplift in the Glenwood Canyon region from 3 to 1 Ma.


Palmer M.V.,619 Winney Hill Rd | Palmer A.N.,New York University
International Journal of Speleology | Year: 2012

Caves of the Guadalupe Mountains have experienced many modifications since their final phase of sulfuric acid speleogenesis several million years ago. Petrographic and geochemical data reveal details of the change from H2SO4 to CO2-dominated reactions. The H2SO4 dissolution front acquired a coating of replacement gypsum with local pockets of anhydrite and by-products of altered clay, including Fe-Mn oxides. Alteration of bedrock beneath the gypsum produced a white micritized rind with small negative shifts in δ13C and δ18O. Solution basins contain records of the earliest post-speleogenetic processes: corroded bedrock, residual anhydrite, Fe-Mn oxides from fluctuating pH and Eh, mammillary calcite, and dolomitization. Later meteoric water removed or recrystallized much of the gypsum and early micrite, and replaced some gypsum with calcite. Mammillary crusts demonstrate fluctuating groundwater, with calcite layers interrupted by films of Fe-Mn oxides precipitated during periodic inflow of anoxic water. Condensation moisture (from local evaporation) absorbs CO2 from cave air, corroding earlier features and lowering their δ13C and δ18O. Drips of condensation water deposit minerals mainly by evaporation, which increases δ18O in the speleothems while δ13C remains nearly constant. By forcing calcite precipitation, evaporation raises the Mg content of remaining water and subsequent precipitates. Dolomite (both primary and replacive) is abundant. In areas of low air circulation, water on and within carbonate speleothems equilibrates with cave-air CO2, causing minerals to recrystallize with glassy textures. Fluorite on young evaporative speleothems suggests a recent release of deep-source HF gas and absorption by droplets of condensation water.

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