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Late Quaternary Glacial and Climatic History of Northern Cumberland Peninsula, Baffin Island, N.W.T., Canada1

  • Gifford H. Miller

Abstract

Radiocarbon dates on molluses in marine facies associated with glacial deposits in northern Cumberland Peninsula indicate both main fiord (Laurentide) ice and local glaciers remained at their late Wisconsin maxima until ca. 8000 BP. Essentially continuous deglaciation followed; local corrie glaciers melted out by 7100 BP and by 5500 BP fiord glaciers had receded behind the present margin of the Penny Ice Cap. The Hypsithermal warm interval probably lasted from ca. 8000 to 5000 BP. Lichenometry and radiocarbon dates on peat and buried organic horizons delimit a detailed Neoglacial chronology. Of 46 outlet and corrie glaciers investigated, the oldest Neoglacial moraines are dated lichenometrically at 3200 ± 600 BP. Subsequent advances terminated immediately prior to ca. 1650, 780, 350, and 65 yr BP, the most recent of which marked the most extensive ice coverage during the Neoglacial. The highest occurrence of lateral moraines from late Wisconsin advances of local and Laurentide ice suggest that at the late Wisconsin glacial maximum, depression of snowline varied from 450 m below present at the coast to 350 m below present level in the vicinity of the Penny Ice Cap. Moraines, surrounded by glacial ice and lying above the present steady-state ELA, suggest that during the Hypsithermal snowline was up to ca. 200 m above its present elevation. A radiometrically controlled reconstruction of relative summer paleotemperatures for the postglacial derived independently of lichenometry agrees well with the lichenometric age dating of moraines. The data suggest that between ca. 1650 and 900 BP climatic conditions were unfavorable for glacier growth, whereas the period ca. 800-65 yr BP was one of general glacial activity. During the last decade permanent snow cover has been increasing in the area. Previously reported data on climatic trends in the Canadian Arctic based on palynological analyses are similar to the chronology reported here.

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1

Part IX in a series dealing with the Quaternary history of northern Cumberland Peninsula, Baffin Island, N.W.T., Canada.

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Late Quaternary Glacial and Climatic History of Northern Cumberland Peninsula, Baffin Island, N.W.T., Canada1

  • Gifford H. Miller

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