Paleotemperatures for the last glacial maximum (LGM) have been derived from noble gases dissolved in 14C-dated groundwater of the Ojo Alamo and the Nacimiento formations in the San Juan Basin, northwestern New Mexico. The difference in mean annual (ground) temperature between the Holocene and the LGM was determined to be 5.5 ± 0.7°C. A practically identical result, 5.2 ± 0.7°C, has been obtained previously from the Carrizo aquifer in southern Texas. This suggests that the southwestern United States was uniformly cooler during the LGM and that the mean annual temperature gradient along a transect from the Gulf of Mexico to northwestern New Mexico has been unchanged since the LGM. The noble gas paleotemperatures are supported by paleoecological evidence in the region. The Holocene/LGM temperature difference of 5.4°C indicates that a simple lapse rate calculation may be applied to convert the 1000-m glacial depression of snowlines in the Colorado Front Range into a temperature decrease. A continental temperature change of 5.4 ± 0.7°C is inconsistent with a temperature change of about 2°C determined for the surface waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Earth-Surface Processes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)