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To download a copy of Bowen and Johnson's 2013 Geological Society of America national meeting poster titled "Late Quaternary Climate Changes on the Central High Plains Recorded in Playa-Lunette Systems" click here    


Playa-Lunette Systems

Aerialview Smallplaya DryLake

  • Playas are small, ephemeral, geographically-isolated, internally-drained wetlands.

  • Lunettes are dunes found along the southern margin of some larger playas.

  • Playa-lunette systems (PLSs) are common features in semi-arid and arid regions around the world, and they are particularly abundant on the High Plains of the central United States.

  • These systems are especially useful for environmental reconstructions because they are influenced by fluvial, lacustrine, and eolian process, with the dominant geomorphic process at a given time being dependent upon prevailing environmental conditions.


Playa-Lunette System Functions

Playa-ducks Playas-water playa-birdnest

  • Playas store water, which: decreases flooding, supports aquatic vegetation, provides essential wetland habitat, and promotes biogeochemical processes that improve water quality.

  • Groundwater recharge may be 1-2 orders of magnitude greater in playas compared to uplands.

  • Sediment and sediment-bound pollutants accumulate in playas, reducing pollution loads to streams.

  • Archaeological material, spanning several cultural periods, are often preserved in lunettes.


Impacts to Playa-Lunette System Functions

Playa-ag playa-feedlot playa-dump

  • Much of the High Plains landscape, including playas, has been converted for agriculture, resulting in sedimentation of playas and decreased functionality.

  • Road construction alters the natural hydrologic regime of playas and fragments playas and watersheds.

  • Playas have been modified to serve a variety of purposes including crop production, trash dumps, feed lot effluent storage, and irrigation runoff storage.

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by bowenm last modified Oct 23, 2013 03:21 PM