Ostracode-based reconstruction from 23,300 to about 20,250 cal yr BP of climate, and paleohydrology of a groundwater-fed pond near St. Louis, Missouri

Brandon Curry, Denis Delorme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The water chemistry of a groundwater-fed sinkhole-pond near St. Louis, Missouri, and its associated climate during the last glaciation are reconstructed by comparison with autecological data of modern ostracodes from about 5,500 sites in Canada. A 4.8-m succession of fossiliferous sediment yielded ostracode assemblages that collectively are generally found today in ponds in North America including the species Cyclocypris ampla, C. laevis, Cypridopsis vidua, Candona crogmaniana, C. distincta, and C. ohioensis. Fossils of Picea needles and the ostracode Cyclocypris sharpei imply that best analog sites for the succession are in central to south-central Canada. The pond formed 23,300 ± 400 cal yr BP when a sinkhole became plugged by a clay bed about 1 m thick. By about 20,250 cal yr BP, the pond had desiccated and was buried by loess. The sediment accumulation rate was about 0.18 cm/yr, and each sample interval (6 cm) represents a time slice of ≈33 years. Data from this record provides the first fairly high resolution proxy record of the glacial paleoclimate of the mid-latitude of North America. The analog data indicate the water in the hydrologically-open spring-fed pond was less than 1 m deep. The paleoclimatic reconstructions imply gradually drier conditions and uniform, cool temperatures. The shallow water depth indicates that the temperature reconstruction is robust with mean annual temperatures (MATs) that ranged between 0.8 and 3.9°C, and mean July temperatures that ranged from 16.8 and 18.1°C. Other estimated climatic parameters include mean annual precipitation (MAP; 430 to 840 mm/yr), and moisture balance (P-E; -111 to 298 mm/yr). Compared to values measured today at St. Louis, the MAP was about 400 mm less, MAT about 10°C cooler, and P-E, about the same. These values are consistent with other published reconstructions based on modern analog analysis of fossil beetles and pollen, and paleothermometry based on amino acid racemization. The total dissolved solids (TDS) progressively increased from about 87 to 431 mg/L. Changes in TDS reflect either the balance between the relative inputs of karst groundwater and overland flow, or changes in the duration of water-rock interaction associated with the groundwater. The postulated long-term 900 ± 200 year cyclicity of growing-season moisture and temperature, attributed to El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycles, is not expressed in the reconstructed hydrologic or climatic data. This is attributed, in part, to the mediating effect on temperature by monothermic groundwater input to this flow-through system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-207
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2003


  • Glacial climate
  • Ostracodes
  • Paleohydrology
  • St. Louis (Missouri, USA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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