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Varves and Physical Sedimentology

Biogenic laminated sediments in Ogac Lake, Baffin Island, Canada, preserve a record of spring/summer temperature and snowmelt.

Annually laminated sediments preserved in the anoxic waters of the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela, provide precise dating of paleoclimate records.

Early work investigated annually laminated (varved) sediments in order to understand their sedimentology and build paleoclimate records in both high-latitude (Hughen et al., 1996a; Hughen et al., 2000b; Moore et al., 2001; Overpeck et al., 1997) and tropical sites (Hughen et al., 1996b; 1996c). These approaches are summarized in several book chapters on varve formation and applications to paleoclimatology (Hughen and Zolitschka, 2007; 2012; Hughen, 2014). The color spectra and trace element composition of sediments show changes in mineralogy and provides ultra-high resolution climate records (Hughen et al., 1996c; Peterson et al., 2000; Haug et al., 2001; 2003; Lea et al., 2003; Deplazes et al., 2013). Sediments from fjords in Patagonia reflect the vegetation and geologic conditions in their catchments (Sepulveda et al., 2011; Bertrand et al., 2012a; 2013), and analysis of long cores reveal hydrological changes and impacts on glaciers over the last 2000 years (Sepulveda et al., 2005; 2009; Bertrand et al., 2012b; 2014; Rebolledo et al., 2008).



Funding Agencies

The National Science Foundation under grant number XXX and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration under grant number XXX funded this research.



  • Julio Sepulveda, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
  • Sebastien Bertrand, University of Ghent, Belgium
  • Gerald Haug, ETH, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Jonathan Overpeck, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Relevant Publications

  • Hughen, K., 2014, Marine Varves, In: Encyclopedia of Scientific Dating Methods, Eds., Rink, J., Thompson, J., Springer, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-6326-5_162-1.
  • Bertrand, S., Hughen, K., Sepulveda, J., Pantoja, S., 2014, Covariability of precipitation seasonal-ity and sea surface temperature in northern Chilean Patagonia during the late Holocene, Qua-ternary Science Reviews 105, 195-208.
  • Bertrand, S., Hughen, K., Giosan, L., 2013, Limited influence of sediment grain-size on elemental XRF core scanner measurements, In: Micro-XRF Studies of Sediment Cores, Developments in paleonvironmental research series, Springer.
  • Deplazes, G., Lückge, A., Peterson, L.C., Timmermann, A., Hamann, Y., Hughen, K.A., Röhl, U., Laj, C., Cane, M.A., Sigman, D.M., Haug, G.H., 2013, Response of tropical rainfall variability to North Atlantic climate during the last ice age, Nature Geosciences 6, 213–217, doi:10.1038/ngeo1712.
  • Hughen, K.A., Zolitschka, B., 2012, Marine Varved Sediments, In: Encyclopedia of Quaternary Sciences, 2nd Edition, Ed., Elias, S., Elsevier.
  • Bertrand, S., Hughen, K., Sepulveda, J. and Pantoja, S., 2012, Geochemistry of Surface Sediments from the Fjords of Northern Chilean Patagonia (44-47˚ S): Spatial Variability and Implications for Paleoclimate Reconstructions, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 76 (1), 125-146.
  • Bertrand, S., Hughen, K., Lamy, F., Fernandez, R., Anderson, J., Wellner, J., Stuut, J., Torrejon, F., Lange, C., 2012, Precipitation as the main driver of Neoglacial fluctuations of Gualas glacier, Northern Patagonian Icefield, Climate of the Past 8, 1–16, doi:10.5194/cp-8-1-2012.
  • Sepúlveda, J., Pantoja, S., Hughen, K.A., 2011, Sources and distribution of organic matter in northern Patagonia fjords, Chile (~44-47°S): A multi-tracer approach for carbon cycling assessment, Continental Shelf Research 31, 315-329.
  • Sepúlveda, J., Pantoja, S., Hughen, K.A., Bertrand, S., Figueroa, D., Leon, T., Drenzek, N., Lange, C., 2009, Late Holocene temperature and precipitation variability in Northern Patagonia-Chile: (Jacaf fjord, 44˚S) Quaternary Research doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2009.06.010.
  • Rebolledo, L., Sepulveda, S., Lange, C., Pantoja, S., Bertrand, S., Hughen, K., Figueroa, D., 2008, Marine productivity and late Holocene climate changes in Northern Patagonia during the last 1,800 years inferred from a multi-proxy analysis of Jacaf channel sediments (Chile, 44° S), Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2008.08.016.
  • Hughen, K.A., Zolitschka, B., 2007, Marine Varved Sediments, In: Encyclopedia of Quaternary Sciences, Ed., Elias, S., Elsevier.
    Sepúlveda, J., Pantoja, S., Hughen, K., Lange, C., and 10 others, 2005, Fluctuations in export productivity over the last century from sediments of a southern Chilean fjord (44°S), Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 65 587-600.
  • Lea, D.W., Pak, D.K., Peterson, L.C., Hughen, K.A., 2003, Synchroneity of Tropical and High-Latitude Atlantic Temperatures over the Last Glacial Termination, Science 301, 1361-1665.
  • Haug, G.H., Günther, D., Peterson, L.C., Sigman, D.M., Hughen, K.A., 2003, Climate and the collapse of Mayan civilization, Science 299, 1731-1735.
  • Haug, G.H., Hughen, K.A., Sigman, D.M., Peterson, L.C., Röhl, U., 2001, A Marine Record of Holocene Climate Events in Tropical South America, Science 293, 1304-1308.
  • Moore, J.J., Hughen, K.A., Miller, G.H., Overpeck, J.T., 2001, Little Ice Age Recorded in Summer Temperatures from Varved Sediments of Donard Lake, Baffin Island, Canada, J. Paleolimnology 25, 503-517.
  • Hughen, K.A., Overpeck, J.T., Anderson, R.F., 2000, Recent Warming in a 500-Year Paleotemperature Record from Varved Sediments: Upper Soper Lake, Baffin Island, Canada, The Holocene 10, 9-19.
  • Peterson, L.C., Haug, G.H., Hughen, K.A., Röhl, U., 2000, Rapid Changes in the Hydrologic Cycle of the Tropical Atlantic During the Last Glacial, Science 290, 1947-1951.
  • Overpeck, J.T., Hughen, K.A., Hardy, D.R., and 14 others, 1997, Arctic Environmental Change of the Last Four Centuries, Science 278, 1251-1256.
  • Hughen, K.A., Overpeck, J.T., Peterson, L.C., Trumbore, S., 1996, Rapid climate changes in the tropical Atlantic region during the last deglaciation, Nature 380, 51-54.
  • Hughen, K.A., Overpeck, J.T., Peterson, L.C., Anderson, R.F., 1996, The nature of varved sedimentation in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela, and its palaeoclimatic significance, In: Kemp, A.E.S. (ed.), Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoceanography from Laminated Sediments, Geological Society Special Publication 116, 171-183.
  • Hughen, K.A., Overpeck, J.T., Anderson, R.F., Williams, K.M., 1996, The potential for palaeocli-mate records from varved Arctic lake sediments, In: Kemp, A.E.S. (ed.), Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoceanography from Laminated Sediments, Geological Society Special Publication 116, 57-71.