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Paleoecology and ice limits of the early Fraser glaciation (Marine Isotope Stage 2) on Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada

  • Rolf W. Mathewes (a1) and John J. Clague (a2)

Abstract

Our study combines new geological and paleoecological information to reconstruct the glacial history and terrestrial paleoenvironments on Haida Gwaii during the advance phase of the Fraser glaciation (Marine Isotope Stage 2). At Cape Ball on eastern Graham Island, five accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon ages ranging from 23,200±280 to 26,650±390 14C yr BP (ca. 27,000–31,400 cal yr BP) record the earliest approach of mainland glaciers to Haida Gwaii. Abundant marine dinoflagellate cysts indicate isostatic depression by glacial ice in Hecate Strait to the east. At Mary Point on the north coast of Graham Island, similar outwash of a piedmont lobe advancing westward along Dixon Entrance preserves plant remains dated from 19,270±360 to 23,740±300 14C yr BP (22,500–28,600 cal yr BP). These sediments also contain marine indicators. Plant macrofossils, pollen, and invertebrates support the geological evidence of a proglacial environment under a colder-than-present macroclimate. Although some trees were likely present on Graham Island at this time, tundra-like plant communities dominated low-lying areas. A large area that appears to have been ice-free during this time is a portion of the continental shelf off the east coast of Moresby Island, referred to provisionally as the “Hecate Refugium.”

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author at: Department of Biological Sciences, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada. E-mail: mathewes@sfu.ca (R.W. Mathewes).

References

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Paleoecology and ice limits of the early Fraser glaciation (Marine Isotope Stage 2) on Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada

  • Rolf W. Mathewes (a1) and John J. Clague (a2)

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