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Late quaternary snowline reconstructions for the southern and central Sierra Nevada, California and a reassessment of the “Recess Peak Glaciation”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Abstract

In the Sierra Nevada, the “Recess Peak Glaciation” has been previously defined on the basis of deposits exhibiting relative-age characteristics intermediate between those of the Little Ice Age deposits and those of early Holocene or older moraines. In the absence of reliable chronological control, the Recess Peak deposits were assigned an early Neoglacial age. Although numerous moraines in the central and southern Sierra have been attributed to this interval, regional snowline gradients reconstructed from these deposits lack internal consistency and appear to represent several distinctly different episodes of glacier advance. As a basis for comparison with the Recess Peak data, modern and late Pleistocene regional snowlines were reconstructed using accumulation-area ratios and cirque-floor altitudes. These reconstructions display regionally consistent gradients, rising gradually southward and more steeply eastward. Based on these data, the full-glacial late Pleistocene snowline depression is estimated to have been ≥800 m. Estimates of Recess Peak snowline depression vary widely, ranging from 140 to 500 m, and a reconstructed regional gradient rises northward, in opposition to the late Pleistocene and modern snowlines. Limited radiocarbon dating and the irregular pattern derived from the Recess Peak snowline data suggest that, even in the type area, these deposits resulted from both pre- and post-Hypsithermal glacier advances.

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Articles
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University of Washington

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