mojave desert
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2022 ◽  
Elizabeth L. Miller ◽  
Mark E. Raftrey ◽  
Jens-Erik Lund Snee

ABSTRACT In a reconnaissance investigation aimed at interrogating the changing topography and paleogeography of the western United States prior to Basin and Range faulting, a preliminary study made use of U-Pb ages of detrital zircon suites from 16 samples from the Eocene–Oligocene Titus Canyon Formation, its overlying units, and correlatives near Death Valley. The Titus Canyon Formation unconformably overlies Neoproterozoic to Devonian strata in the Funeral and Grapevine Mountains of California and Nevada. Samples were collected from (1) the type area in Titus Canyon, (2) the headwaters of Monarch Canyon, and (3) unnamed Cenozoic strata exposed in a klippe of the Boundary Canyon fault in the central Funeral Mountains. Red beds and conglomerates at the base of the Titus Canyon Formation at locations 1 and 2, which contain previously reported 38–37 Ma fossils, yielded mostly Sierran batholith–age detrital zircons (defined by Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous peaks). Overlying channelized fluvial sandstones, conglomerates, and minor lacustrine shale, marl, and limestone record an abrupt change in source region around 38–36 Ma or slightly later, from more local, Sierran arc–derived sediment to extraregional sources to the north. Clasts of red radiolarian-bearing chert, dark radiolarian chert, and quartzite indicate sources in the region of the Golconda and Roberts Mountains allochthons of northern Nevada. Sandstones intercalated with conglomerate contain increasing proportions of Cenozoic zircon sourced from south-migrating, caldera-forming eruptions at the latitude of Austin and Ely in Nevada with maximum depositional ages (MDAs) ranging from 36 to 24 Ma at the top of the Titus Canyon Formation. Carbonate clasts and ash-rich horizons become more prevalent in the overlying conglomeratic Panuga Formation (which contains a previously dated 15.7 Ma ash-flow tuff). The base of the higher, ash-dominated Wahguyhe Formation yielded a MDA of 14.4 Ma. The central Funeral Mountains section exposes a different sequence of units that, based on new data, are correlative to the Titus Canyon, Panuga, and Wahguyhe Formations at locations 1 and 2. An ash-flow tuff above its (unexposed) base provided a MDA of 34 Ma, and the youngest sample yielded a MDA of 12.7 Ma. The striking differences between age-correlative sections, together with map-based evidence for channelization, indicate that the Titus Canyon Formation and overlying units likely represent fluvial channel, floodplain, and lacustrine deposits as sediments mostly bypassed the region, moving south toward the Paleogene shoreline in the Mojave Desert. The profound changes in source regions and sedimentary facies documented in the Titus Canyon Formation took place during ignimbrite flareup magmatism and a proposed eastward shift of the continental divide from the axis of the Cretaceous arc to a new divide in central Nevada in response to thermal uplift and addition of magma to the crust. This uplift initiated south-flowing fluvial systems that supplied sediments to the Titus Canyon Formation and higher units.

2021 ◽  
Tim Henderson ◽  
Vincent Santucci ◽  
Tim Connors ◽  
Justin Tweet

A fundamental responsibility of the National Park Service (NPS) is to ensure that park resources are preserved, protected, and managed in consideration of the resources themselves and for the benefit and enjoyment by the public. Through the inventory, monitoring, and study of park resources, we gain a greater understanding of the scope, significance, distribution, and management issues associated with these resources and their use. This baseline of natural resource information is available to inform park managers, scientists, stakeholders, and the public about the conditions of these resources and the factors or activities that may threaten or influence their stability and preservation. There are several different categories of geologic or stratigraphic units (supergroup, group, formation, member, bed) that represent a hierarchical system of classification. The mapping of stratigraphic units involves the evaluation of lithologies, bedding properties, thickness, geographic distribution, and other factors. Mappable geologic units may be described and named through a rigorously defined process that is standardized and codified by the professional geologic community (North American Commission on Stratigraphic Nomenclature 2005). In most instances when a new geologic unit such as a formation is described and named in the scientific literature, a specific and well-exposed section or exposure area of the unit is designated as the type section or other category of stratotype (see “Definitions” below). The type section is an important reference exposure for a named geologic unit which presents a relatively complete and representative example for this unit. Geologic stratotypes are important both historically and scientifically, and should be available for other researchers to evaluate in the future.. The inventory of all geologic stratotypes throughout the 423 units of the NPS is an important effort in documenting these locations in order that NPS staff recognize and protect these areas for future studies. The focus adopted for completing the baseline inventories throughout the NPS was centered on the 32 inventory and monitoring networks (I&M) established during the late 1990s. The I&M networks are clusters of parks within a defined geographic area based on the ecoregions of North America (Fenneman 1946; Bailey 1976; Omernik 1987). These networks share similar physical resources (e.g., geology, hydrology, climate), biological resources (e.g., flora, fauna), and ecological characteristics. Specialists familiar with the resources and ecological parameters of the network, and associated parks, work with park staff to support network-level activities such as inventory, monitoring, research, and data management. Adopting a network-based approach to inventories worked well when the NPS undertook paleontological resource inventories for the 32 I&M networks. The planning team from the NPS Geologic Resources Division who proposed and designed this inventory selected the Greater Yellowstone Inventory & Monitoring Network (GRYN) as the pilot network for initiating this project. Through the research undertaken to identify the geologic stratotypes within the parks of the GRYN methodologies for data mining and reporting on these resources were established. Methodologies and reporting adopted for the GRYN have been used in the development of this report for the Mojave Desert Inventory & Monitoring Network (MOJN). The goal of this project is to consolidate information pertaining to geologic type sections that occur within NPS-administered areas, in order that this information is available throughout the NPS to inform park managers and to promote the preservation and protection of these important geologic landmarks and geologic heritage resources. The review of stratotype occurrences for the MOJN shows there are currently no designated stratotypes for Joshua Tree National Park (JOTR) or Manzanar National Historic Site (MANZ); Death Valley...

2021 ◽  
Jennifer Moore Bernstein ◽  
Cameron Audras ◽  
Charmaine Dalisay ◽  
Jennifer Swift

This research project aimed to integrate geography, spatial analysis, environmental studies, and social psychology to understand conflicts over solar development in the Mojave Desert region. A second objective was to empower the participating undergraduate student researchers with a deep-learning experience using multidisciplinary tools. This project ran from 2019 to 2021 under the Undergraduate Research Associates Program (URAP) at the University of Southern California. The students conducted site suitability analysis, survey research, interviews, and field studies. Results combined spatial analysis, attitudinal surveys, mapping, and detailed accounts of the students’ learning experiences. An important conclusion of this project was the discovery of a discrepancy between broad support for solar development at the state and national level, and a suspicion at the local level The student researchers went on to present multiple conferences and receive awards, and based on this project, both decided to attend graduate school in environmental studies and sciences. Recommendations for further research include interpolation of attitudes toward solar development, conducting a demographically representative survey, and participatory mapping. This approach can serve as a pedagogical strategy for other institutions, as students are increasingly eager to address environmental problem solving from the perspective of both the natural and social sciences.

2021 ◽  
Vol 11 (1) ◽  
Carlos E. Santibáñez-López ◽  
Paula E. Cushing ◽  
Alexsis M. Powell ◽  
Matthew R. Graham

AbstractSpecies of camel spiders in the family Eremobatidae are an important component of arthropod communities in arid ecosystems throughout North America. Recently, research demonstrated that the evolutionary history and biogeography of the family are poorly understood. Herein we explore the biogeographic history of this group of arachnids using genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data, morphology, and distribution modelling to study the eremobatid genus Eremocosta, which contains exceptionally large species distributed throughout North American deserts. Relationships among sampled species were resolved with strong support and they appear to have diversified within distinct desert regions along an east-to-west progression beginning in the Chihuahuan Desert. The unexpected phylogenetic position of some samples suggests that the genus may contain additional, morphologically cryptic species. Geometric morphometric analyses reveal a largely conserved cheliceral morphology among Eremocosta spp. Phylogeographic analyses indicate that the distribution of E. titania was substantially reduced during the last glacial maximum and the species only recently colonized much of the Mojave Desert. Results from this study underscore the power of genome-wide data for unlocking the genetic potential of museum specimens, which is especially promising for organisms like camel spiders that are notoriously difficult to collect.

2021 ◽  
Vol 107 (3) ◽  
pp. 231-248
Brian L. Cypher ◽  
Brian B. Boroski ◽  
Robert K. Burton ◽  
Daniel E. Meade ◽  
Scott E. Phillips ◽  

Photovoltaic solar power generating facilities are proliferating rapidly in California and elsewhere. While this trend is welcomed for many reasons (e.g., reducing greenhouse gas emissions), these facilities also can have profound environmental impacts, particularly to local species populations. These impacts become more significant when species of conservation concern are affected. In the San Joaquin Desert region in central California, a number of conservation measures have been routinely implemented on solar facilities, and these measures have facilitated continued use of the facilities by a number of species of conservation concern. Some of the more significant measures include permeable security fences, vegetation management, movement corridors, avoiding critical features such as dens and burrows, and vehicle speed limits. Detailed studies have been conducted on San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica) using solar facilities in the San Joaquin Desert. Demographic and ecological attributes of foxes are similar between foxes using the facilities and foxes on nearby reference sites, and values for foxes on solar sites are within the ranges of values for foxes reported from sites within core population areas. Facilitated by the conservation measures, kit foxes are using at least six facilities in the San Joaquin Desert as are a variety of other species of conservation concern. This successful model also potentially could be adapted to other ecosystems and applied to facilities in regions outside of the San Joaquin Desert, such as the Mojave Desert. Determining whether species in other regions can use photovoltaic solar facilities and identifying the most efficacious conservation measures will require time and testing, and these efforts would benefit from collaborative efforts among landowners, solar developers, natural resources agencies, researchers, and others. The San Joaquin Desert facilities and a recent demonstration facility in the Mojave Desert provide strong evidence that solar facilities can be constructed and operated in a manner that also accommodates continued use of the facilities by some species of conservation concern.

2021 ◽  
Vol 263 ◽  
pp. 109336
Steven M. Grodsky ◽  
Joshua W. Campbell ◽  
Rebecca R. Hernandez

Geology ◽  
2021 ◽  
L.P. Persico ◽  
L.D. McFadden ◽  
J.R. McAuliffe ◽  
T.M. Rittenour ◽  
T.E. Stahlecker ◽  

Climate change is an often-cited control on geomorphic processes in the arid southwestern United States, but links to direct climatic factors and vegetation change remain under debate. Hillslopes at a site in the eastern Mojave Desert in southern Nevada are mantled by 0–1.5 m of colluvial deposits. Accumulation of weathered bedrock combined with eolian inputs of fine sand and silt led to the formation of well-developed soil profiles. Surface sediments from both sources were incorporated into colluvium, allowing both processes to be dated with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). OSL ages indicate a period of increased colluviation in the Late Pleistocene facilitated by enhanced bedrock weathering and dust deposition. Hillslope aspect strongly controls predominant soil environments and associated vegetation. Well-developed soils with dense grass cover extensively mantle the mesic north-aspect hillslopes, while more xeric south-aspect hillslopes are dominated by thin colluvium with minimal soil development, extensive bedrock exposure, and desertscrub vegetation. Remnants of older colluvium with moderately developed soils on south aspects, however, indicate they were once more extensively mantled by thicker colluvial deposits. The transition to drier conditions in the Holocene diminished vegetation cover on more xeric south aspects, triggering widespread erosion, whereas the more mesic north aspects retained denser grass cover that minimized erosion. The transition to drier conditions in the Holocene altered the vegetation; however, persistent perennial grass cover minimized erosion into the middle Holocene. Increasing aridity during the middle Holocene significantly reduced grass cover on more xeric south aspects, triggering erosion and alluvial deposition. OSL dates of dust incorporated into terrace sediments indicate late Middle Holocene aggradation and soil development in the Late Holocene. In contrast, maintenance of substantial perennial grass cover on mesic north aspects minimized erosion from those hillslopes throughout the Holocene.

2021 ◽  
Vol 13 (18) ◽  
pp. 3578
J. Judson Wynne ◽  
Jeff Jenness ◽  
Derek L. Sonderegger ◽  
Timothy N. Titus ◽  
Murzy D. Jhabvala ◽  

Since the initial experiments nearly 50 years ago, techniques for detecting caves using airborne and spacecraft acquired thermal imagery have improved markedly. These advances are largely due to a combination of higher instrument sensitivity, modern computing systems, and processor-intensive analytical techniques. Through applying these advancements, our goals were to: (1) Determine the efficacy of methods designed for terrain analysis and applied to thermal imagery; (2) evaluate the usefulness of predawn and midday imagery for detecting caves; and (3) ascertain which imagery type (predawn, midday, or the difference between those two times) was most informative. Using forward stepwise logistic (FSL) and Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) regression analyses for model selection, and a thermal imagery dataset acquired from the Mojave Desert, California, we examined the efficacy of three well-known terrain descriptors (i.e., slope, topographic position index (TPI), and curvature) on thermal imagery for cave detection. We also included the actual, untransformed thermal DN values (hereafter “unenhanced thermal”) as a fourth dataset. Thereafter, we compared the thermal signatures of known cave entrances to all non-cave surface locations. We determined these terrain-based analytical methods, which described the “shape” of the thermal landscape, hold significant promise for cave detection. All imagery types produced similar results. Down-selected covariates per imagery type, based upon the FSL models, were: Predawn— slope, TPI, curvature at 0 m from cave entrance, as well as slope at 1 m from cave entrance; midday— slope, TPI, and unenhanced thermal at 0 m from cave entrance; and difference— TPI and slope at 0 m from cave entrance, as well as unenhanced thermal and TPI at 3.5 m from cave entrance. We provide recommendations for future research directions in terrestrial and planetary cave detection using thermal imagery.

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