Paleolakes in the Mojave Desert

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July 6 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

The last talk for Lost City Museum’s Archeologist of Southern Nevada Lecture Series 2024:


The Mojave Desert is a host of many now desiccated Holocene Lakes. A 2018 geological study conducted by Spaulding and Sims revealed that Ivanpah Lake is not a Holocene Lake as previously thought, but rather a paleolake. This lake, which consistently dried and refilled until approximately 1,000 years ago, created a lush wetland landscape with abundant resources. Subsistence adaptations at Ivanpah Lake include wetland geophyte processing in thermal features, hunting game, and harvesting freshwater crustaceans. Fishing features at lakes in the Mojave Desert are rare but do occur. These fishing features include fishing platforms and catchments, connecting this area to the fishing traditions seen throughout the region. This discovery increases the likelihood of similar finds in other understudied Holocene lakes in the area, specifically those known to host other phyllopod populations. These results have meaningful implications considering the overlap of the study area with the intersection of two important indigenous trails, the Salt Song trail and Southern Fox Song trail. The conclusions drawn from this research create an argument for increased protection and preservation of the entire Ivanpah Lake region and the value of nondestructive research methods by drawing on existing data.

About Kara Jones

Kara Jones is a Mojave Desert archaeologist. They are a doctoral student at UNLV, where they earned their M.A. in 2023, and earned their undergraduate degree at CSU, Bakersfield graduating Magna Cum Laude. Their current research focus is on the changing use of Holocene Lakes utilizing lithic analysis, GIS, and landscape theory. They are a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow and Vice President of the Nevada Archaeological Association. Kara has been working in the Mojave Desert and Great Basin for nine years having served as a Crew Chief leading fieldwork, lab manager, and curation assistant.


Adults – $6 

Children (17 and under) – Free

Museum Members – Free