Interpreting Paleoclimate from soils in Northern Mongolia 

Alison Gillespie and Devon Macauley, Class of 2001 

Department of Geology, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA 99362

        From late July to early September, students and professors from the University of Washington, Humboldt State University, Whitman College and Mongolian Technical University traveled through northern Mongolia to study and document Quaternary features. Our main goal was to determine the timing and position where climate shifted from arid conditions in the south to a wetter, glacier-enabling situation in the north. Careful analysis of soils can reveal much information about the approximate number and relative ages of glaciations. We sampled several sites at each location, mostly focusing on moraine crests (to avoid the effects slopes cause on the soil) and river terraces. Given a known parent material, there are measurable changes in the mineralogy that may have occurred in the soil over time, related to the climate. By analyzing clay mineralogy of samples from various locations, we expected correlations between relative age and climate relationships between the sites to emerge.


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