EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Holocene climate variability and associated paleoenvironmental changes in the eastern lowlands of Guatemala revealed by a lake sediment from Lake Izabal

Edward Duarte1, Jonathan Obrist-Farner1, Alex Correa-Metrio2,3, and Byron A. Steinman4
Edward Duarte et al.
  • 1Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering Department, Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla, MO 65409, USA. (
  • 2Instituto de Geología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Coyoacán, CDMX 04510, México.
  • 3Centro de Geociencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Juriquilla, QRO 76230, México.
  • 4Large Lakes Observatory and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, MN 55812, USA.

Sediment records have been widely used to reconstruct Holocene environmental and climate conditions around the world. As new Holocene records from Central America and the Caribbean have become available, new hypotheses have emerged to explain the complex hydroclimate variability in the region. Here we present results from a radiocarbon-dated sediment core recovered from Lake Izabal, eastern Guatemala, that covers the last ~9,500 years. We combined sedimentological, XRF elemental abundances, and principal component (PC) analyses to reconstruct changes in erosion/precipitation, lake productivity, and lake water chemistry during the Holocene. Our results indicate that during the early Holocene, Lake Izabal was a shallow lake with minimal catchment erosion/precipitation as indicated by the abundance of organic-rich mud, coupled with the lowest PC scores and titanium (Ti) abundance of the entire record. An overall increase in the PC scores and a progressive increase in Ti suggest that precipitation/erosion increased from 8,300 to 4,800 cal yr BP and remained high until 1,200 cal yr BP. There was then a significant reduction in erosion and precipitation at ca. 1,200 cal yr BP, as evidenced by a sharp decrease in magnetic susceptibility, terrigenic derived elements, and PC scores. We suggest that the transition towards wetter conditions from the early to the middle Holocene, followed by a stable wet climate until ca. 1,200 cal yr BP, was strongly influenced by a progressive increase in autumn insolation throughout the Holocene, which could have caused an increase in Caribbean sea surface temperatures, increasing moisture availability leading to greater precipitation amounts in the Caribbean coast of Central America.

How to cite: Duarte, E., Obrist-Farner, J., Correa-Metrio, A., and Steinman, B. A.: Holocene climate variability and associated paleoenvironmental changes in the eastern lowlands of Guatemala revealed by a lake sediment from Lake Izabal, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6017,, 2021.


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