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A nearly complete, but highly fractured, proboscidean tusk was unearthed during parking lot construction near Moxee City in central Washington in May 2001. Schreger angle analysis revealed that the tusk was from a mammoth. AMS radiocarbon dating of the tusk established that the mammoth died 14,570 14C yr BP. The age, combined with the biogeography of proboscidean finds in the Pacific Northwest, suggests the tusk is from a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi). The condition of the tusk and its association with basalt and crystalline erratics suggest that a locally derived tusk was swept up in the advancing flood and transported to ∼320 m elevation, where it was deposited in the sediments of the 3rd of 3 Missoula Floods that are preserved in the area. The tusk's weathering indicates subaerial exposure prior to burial in the slackwater sediments. Slackwater deposits at the site are pale, ∼30-100 cm thick, calcareous, fine-textured strata that include occasional coarse basalt and crystalline sand and gravel. They are intruded by numerous clastic dikes. The sediments encapsulating the tusk lack rhythmites because of their deposition in the nearshore zone of an ephemeral slackwater lake. The first 2 floods inundated the site between 15,300 14C yr BP and 14,570 14C yr BP, stripping the A horizon from a well-developed soil formed in alluvial fan sediments sitting above an Ellensburg Formation pediment. The last flood to reach the site occurred later than 14,570 14C yr BP, as indicated by the presence of the dated tusk. Post-flood and post-MSH S tephra loess derived from the Yakima River floodplain mantles these slackwater deposits. The Warden soil is forming in the now-stable loess parent material.


This article was originally published in the journal Western North American Naturalist.


Western North American Naturalist


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