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Late-glacial retreat pattern of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet in central British Columbia reconstructed from glacial meltwater landforms
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology. (Paleoglaciology)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology. (Paleoglaciology)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology. (Paleoglaciology)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology. (Paleoglaciology)
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(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

The Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) covered much of the mountainous northwestern part of North America during Pleistocene glaciations. In contrast to other ephemeral Pleistocene ice sheets, the pattern and timing of growth and decay of the CIS are poorly understood. Here, we present a reconstruction of the pattern of late-glacial ice sheet retreat in central British Columbia based on a palaeoglaciological interpretation of ice-marginal meltwater channels, eskers, and deltas mapped from satellite imagery and digital elevation models. A consistent spatial pattern of high-elevation ice-marginal meltwater channels (1600-2400 m a.s.l.) occurs across central British Columbia. They indicate the presence of ice domes over the Skeena Mountains and the central Coast Mountains early during deglaciation. Ice sourced in the Coast Mountains remained dominant over the southern and east-central parts of the Interior Plateau during late-glacial time. Our reconstruction shows a successive westward retreat of the ice margin away from the western foot of the Rocky Mountains, accompanied by the formation and rapid evolution of a glacial lake in the upper Fraser River basin. Final stages of deglaciation were characterized by the frontal retreat of ice lobes through the valleys of the Skeena and Omineca mountains and by the formation of large esker systems in the most prominent topographic lows of the Interior Plateau. We conclude that the CIS underwent a large-scale reconfiguration early during deglaciation and subsequently diminished by thinning and complex frontal retreat towards the Coast Mountains.

Keyword [en]
Cordilleran Ice Sheet, ice retreat pattern, deglaciation, glacial meltwater landforms
National Category
Physical Geography Geology Climate Research Geosciences, Multidisciplinary
Research subject
Quarternary Geology; Physical Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68954OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-68954DiVA: diva2:474257
Available from: 2012-01-09 Created: 2012-01-09 Last updated: 2012-01-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Retreat pattern and dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets: reconstructions based on meltwater features
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Retreat pattern and dynamics of glaciers and ice sheets: reconstructions based on meltwater features
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Glaciers and ice sheets covered extensive areas in the Northern Hemisphere during the last glacial period. Subsequently to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), they retreated rapidly and, except for Greenland and some other ice caps and glaciers, they vanished after the last glacial termination. This thesis examines the dynamics of deglacial environments by analysing the glacial geomorphological record with focus on the landforms created by glacial meltwater. The aims are (i) to evaluate the data available for mapping glacial meltwater features at the regional scale, and (ii) to demonstrate the potential of such features for regional ice retreat reconstructions in high-relief landscapes. Meltwater landforms such as ice-marginal meltwater channels, eskers, deltas and fossil glacial lake shorelines are used to infer former ice surface slope directions and successive positions of retreating ice margins.

Evaluated high-resolution satellite imagery and digital elevation models reveal their potential to replace aerial photographs as the primary data for mapping glacial meltwater landforms. Following a methods study, reconstructions of the deglacial dynamics are carried out for central Transbaikalia, Siberia, Russia, and for the Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) in central British Columbia, Canada, using regional geomorphological mapping surveys.

Mapped glacial landforms in central Transbaikalia show evidence of a significant glaciation that possibly extended beyond the high mountain areas. Large glacial lakes were formed as advancing glaciers blocked rivers, and of these, Glacial Lake Vitim was the most prominent.

Deglacial dynamics of the CIS reveals that the ice divide shifted to the Coast Mountains in north-central British Columbia and the eastern ice margin retreated towards the ice divide in late glacial time.

This thesis demonstrates the potential to reconstruct ice retreat patterns and deglacial dynamics at regional scales by interpretation of the meltwater landform record.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, 2012. 17 p.
Series
Dissertations from the Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, ISSN 1653-7211 ; 30
Keyword
Palaeoglaciology, Cordilleran Ice Sheet, deglaciation, glacial meltwater features, glacial lake
National Category
Physical Geography
Research subject
Physical Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68958 (URN)978-91-7447-429-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-02-10, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 5: Submitted. Paper 6: Manuscript. Available from: 2012-01-19 Created: 2012-01-09 Last updated: 2012-01-09Bibliographically approved

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