Seismic evidence for the Pleistocene depositional changes in Lake Hovsgol, Mongolia, and implications for the age model and the sediment grain size record of KDP-01 drill core
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This paper seeks to arrive at a consistent interpretation of (1) the age model, (2) the grain size record, and (3) seismic reflection data from Lake Hovsgol (a.k.a Khubsugul or Hövsgöl), Mongolia, reported by Fedotov et al. (2007, earlier by Fedotov et al. 2002, 2004). In their most recent contribution, the grain size record of the KDP-01 drill core is interpreted as a climatic signal while little consideration is given to lake-level changes and hence to basin-wide changes in depositional setting evident from seismic profiles; also, a nearly linear age model is at odds with the seismic evidence for a major angular unconformity in the sediment strata. The lack of regional seismic stratigraphic analysis has thus led to an improbable interpretation of the Lake Hovsgol sediment grain size record and ultimately to an improbable scenario of Mongolian glaciation history. Using the available seismic profiles, here we show that the drill core penetrated several transgressive/regressive sedimentary sequences and a major angular unconformity. Therefore, the drilled sediment section cannot represent continuous sediment accumulation and the Brunhes age model across the unconformity cannot be nearly linear; the time interval representing a hiatus remains to be determined. The assumed nearly linear age/depth relationship in the upper 23 m above the angular unconformity is also an unlikely relationship, given the evidence of repeated changes in lake level, and hence in the depositional setting and sedimentation rates. We further propose a qualitative reference model for changes in the Lake Hovsgol depositional setting (presented as a step-by-step animation – see supplementary material) based on manually ‘backstripping and rebuilding’ the seismic pattern. We argue that this model provides a useful template of the likely sediment facies changes in the deep axial part of the Hovsgol basin: our crude model in fact captures the major depositional trends in the KDP-01 drill core section located some 10 km NW along the seismic line. We contend that changes in the depositional setting provide the first-order control on sediment grain size in the Hovsgol record. Our study provides important new constraints on the nature of sedimentary proxy records in Lake Hovsgol and on their interpretation as a record of Mongolian glaciation history.
KeywordsCentral Asia Mongolia Lake Hovsgol Paleoclimate Paleo-lake Glaciations Pleistocene Lake Baikal
The study of Lake Hovsgol sediment cores was supported by NSF awards ATM-0402341 and ATM-0402351. We thank M. Brenner and an anonymous reviewer for guidance and suggestions that helped improving the manuscript.
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