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Stone Pavements

Stone pavements are widespread surface features in deserts globally. They are the result of the deposition of dust, not erosion. They can form continuously thickening recorders of the environmental conditions during which they formed. A showcase scenario of this concept can be found in the eastern Mojave Desert, California, USA, where deposits on basalt flows of different Neogene ages show a consistent stratigraphic relationship. Three subsequent units, which are dominated by aeolian material, are covered by a stone pavement (the last one being the modern surface). They were deposited >50.9–36.6 ka, 36.6–14.2 ka and younger than 14.2 ka, and they are intimately coupled with the history of nearby Lake Mojave. Stone pavement-covered accretionary deposits are a new key archive that allows quantifying the relative importance of dust accretion, slope processes, soil formation and vegetation cover. High-resolution grain-size analysis and statistical analysis are essential to reveal this function.

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