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Stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen in the Truckee River-Pyramid Lake surface water system. 1. Data analysis and extraction of paleoclimatic information

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Benson, L.V.


Limnology and Oceanography, Volume 39, Issue 2, p.344-355 (1994)


The deltaO-18 content of streamflow discharge entering Pyramid Lake is a simple mixture of isotopically enriched Lake Tahoe discharge and isotopically depleted snowmelt. The deltaO-18 value of Pyramid Lake water varies continuously, as isotopically depleted water evaporates from the epilimnion and isotopically depleted water enters the lake as streamflow discharge and on-lake precipitation. In a normal water year, the deltaO-18 of Pyramid Lake surface water varies seasonally because the components of the hydrologic balance in the Pyramid Lake system are seasonally shifted. The problem of isotopic and thermal heterogeneity can be minimized by analyzing carbonates that integrate the annual variance in deltaO-18, form in an environment in which temperature is relatively invariant, and are not subject to recrystallization after deposition.