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A new and significant site of organic silty sand has been found beneath the Valders till at Valders Quarry in northeastern Wisconsin. This is now the earliest known late-glacial site associated with red till ice advances in the western Great Lakes area. Leaves of terrestrial plants washed into a small depression provide a date of 12,965 ± 200 yr B.P. (WIS-2293), which is significantly older than the Two Creeks Forest Bed (ca. 11,800 yr B.P.). Percentage and concentration pollen diagrams suggest that the site was open and distant from a closed Picea forest. No wood or Picea needles have been found. This date is statistically indistinguishable from 12,550 ± 233 yr B.P., the mean of three dates for the end of inorganic varve sedimentation at Devils Lake, 160 km southwest at the terminus of the Green Bay Lobe. Assuming that the Green Bay lobe vacated its outermost moraine in the interval from 13,000 to 12,500 yr B.P., only a short time was available for retreat of the ice margin over 350 km, drainage of red sediment from Lake Superior into the Lake Michigan basin, readvance of over 250 km, retreat of at least 80 km, and advance to this site. The time for these events appears to have been too short to resolve by current radiocarbon technique. This extremely rapid collapse of the Green Bay lobe has a calibrated age of about 15,000 cal yr B.P., about that of the dramatic warming seen in the Greenland ice cores.
Radiocarbon age control on the type Glenwood, Calumet, and Toleston shoreline features and on the abandoned Chicago outlet at the south end of the Lake Michigan basin provides a basis for reevaluating the timing and causes of high lake phases in the basin. Radiocarbon dates suggest that Glenwood-level (195 m) shoreline features formed between 14,100 and 12,700 yr B.P. (Glenwood I and II phases), Calumet-level (189 m) between 12,700 and 11,000 yr B.P. (Calumet I and II phases), and Toleston-level (184.5 m) between 5000 and 4000 yr B.P. (Nipissing phase), and that the Chicago outlet was cut to its present level (180 m) on bedrock while the lake was at the Glenwood level. This new chronology is inconsistent with J H. Bretz' hypothesis ((1951) American Journal of Science 249 , 401–429) that the progressive lowering of lake level resulted from episodic down-cutting of the outlet. Instead, the changes in lake level appear to relate to changes in the amount of glacial meltwater and precipitation entering the basin. We hypothesize that the Glenwood phases correspond with times when discharge from the Huron and Erie basins also entered the Lake Michigan basin (Lake Border and early Port Huron glacial phases), the Calumet phases with times when drainage was from the Lake Michigan basin alone (late Port Huron and Two Rivers glacial phases), and the Nipissing phase with the postglacial middle Holocene transgression caused by differential uplift in the basin. Estimates of relative net inputs to the basin during the Glenwood, Calumet, and Nipissing lake phases are consistent with estimates of relative outputs (i.e., discharge through the Chicago outlet); the magnitude of relative differences in inputs and outputs between phases is sufficient to explain lake-level changes of 4.5 to 6 m.
New evidence from recent field and seismic investigations in the Lake Michigan basin and in the type areas of the Valders, Two Creeks and Two Rivers deposits necessitates revision of late-glacial ice-front positions, rock- and time-stratigraphic nomenclature and climatic interpretations and deglaciation patterns for the period ca. 14,000–7,000 radiocarbon years B.P. The previously reported and long accepted pattern of deglaciation for the Lake Michigan basin started with a regular retreat from the Lake Border Morainic System, with a minor oscillation marked by the Port Huron moraine(s) and then an extensive Twocreekan deglaciation followed by a major (320 km) post-Twocreekan advance (Valders). However, we now record a major retreat between the times of the Lake Border and Port Huron moraines, followed by a gradual retreat from the Port Huron limit and interrupted by a minor standstill (deposition of Manitowoc Till), a retreat (Twocreekan) and a readvance (Two Rivers Till). No Woodfordian or younger readvance was as extensive as had been the preceding one. This sequence argues for a normal, climatically controlled, progressive deglaciation rather than one interrupted by a major post-Twocreekan (formerly Valderan) surge. This revision appears finally to harmonize the geologic evidence and the palynological record for the Great Lakes region. Our investigations show that Valders Till from which the Valderan Substage was named is late-Woodfordian in age. We propose the term “Greatlakean” as a replacement for the now misleading time-stratigraphic term “Valderan”. The type section and the definition of the upper and lower boundaries of the Greatlakean Substage remain the same as those originally proposed for the Valderan Substage but the name is changed.
Understanding the timing of mountain glacier and paleolake expansion and retraction in the Great Basin region of the western United States has important implications for regional-scale climate change during the last Pleistocene glaciation. The relative timing of mountain glacier maxima and the well-studied Lake Bonneville highstand has been unclear, however, owing to poor chronological limits on glacial deposits. Here, this problem is addressed by applying terrestrial cosmogenic 10Be exposure dating to a classic set of terminal moraines in Little Cottonwood and American Fork Canyons in the western Wasatch Mountains. The exposure ages indicate that the main phase of deglaciation began at 15.7 ± 1.3 ka in both canyons. This update to the glacial chronology of the western Wasatch Mountains can be reconciled with previous stratigraphic observations of glacial and paleolake deposits in this area, and indicates that the start of deglaciation occurred during or at the end of the Lake Bonneville hydrologic maximum. The glacial chronology reported here is consistent with the growing body of data suggesting that mountain glaciers in the western U.S. began retreating as many as 4 ka after the start of northern hemisphere deglaciation (at ca. 19 ka).
Previously undescribed pollen, plant macrofossils, molluscs, and ostracodes were recovered from a 2.5-m-thick glaciolacustrine unit of silty sand and clay at Valders, Wisconsin. The interstadial sediment was deposited about 12,200 14C yr B.P. after retreat of the Green Bay lobe that deposited diamicton of the Horicon Formation, and before advance of the Lake Michigan lobe that deposited the red-brown diamicton of the Valders Member of the Kewaunee Formation. Fluctuations of abundance of Candona subtriangulata, Cytherissa lacustris, and three other species define four ostracode biozones in the lower 1.7 m, suggesting an open lake environment that oscillated in depth and proximity to glacial ice. Pollen is dominated by Picea and Artemisia, but the low percentages of many other types of long-distance origin suggest that the terrestrial vegetation was open and far from the forest border. The upper part of the sediment, a massive sand deposited in either a shallow pond or a sluggish stream, contains a local concentration of plant macrofossils. The interpretation of a cold open environment is supported by the plant macrofossils of more than 20 species, dominated by those of open mineral soils ( Arenaria rubella, Cerastium alpinum type, Silene acaulis, Sibbaldia procumbens, Dryas integrifolia, Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum, Armeria maritima, etc.) that in North America occur largely in the tundra and open tundra–forest ecotone of northern Canada. Ice-wedge casts occur in the sand.
During the last glacial maximum (LGM), the western Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah were occupied by the Western Uinta Ice Field. Cosmogenic10Be surface-exposure ages from the terminal moraine in the North Fork Provo Valley and paired26Al and10Be ages from striated bedrock at Bald Mountain Pass set limits on the timing of the local LGM. Moraine boulder ages suggest that ice reached its maximum extent by 17.4±0.5 ka (± 2σ).10Be and26Al measurements on striated bedrock from Bald Mountain Pass, situated near the former center of the ice field, yield a mean26Al/10Be ratio of 5.7±0.8 and a mean exposure age of 14.0±0.5 ka, which places a minimum-limiting age on when the ice field melted completely. We also applied a mass/energy-balance and ice-flow model to investigate the LGM climate of the western Uinta Mountains. Results suggest that temperatures were likely 5 to 7°C cooler than present and precipitation was 2 to 3.5 times greater than modern, and the western-most glaciers in the range generally received more precipitation when expanding to their maximum extent than glaciers farther east. This scenario is consistent with the hypothesis that precipitation in the western Uintas was enhanced by pluvial Lake Bonneville during the last glaciation.
Sub- and proglacial bed conditions influence advance and retreat of an ice sheet. The existence and distribution of frozen ground is of major importance for better understanding of ice-flow dynamics and landform formation. The southern margin of the Laurentide ice sheet (LIS) was dominated by the presence of relatively thin ice lobes that seem to have been very sensitive to external and internal physical conditions. Their extent and dynamics were highly influenced by the interaction of subglacial and proglacial conditions. A three-dimensional thermomechanical ice-sheet model was coupled with a model for the thermal regime in the upper Earth crust. The model has been applied to the LIS in order to investigate the spatial distribution of thermal conditions at the bed. The evolution of the whole LIS was modeled for the last glacial cycle, with primary attention on correct reconstruction of the southern margin. Our results show extensive temporal and spatial frozen ground conditions. Only a slow degradation of permafrost under the ice was found. We conclude that there are significant interactions between the ice sheet and the underlying frozen ground and that these influence both ice dynamics and landform development.
Nineteen former valley glaciers were reconstructed for their Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) extents in the northern Uinta Mountains, Utah, U.S.A. Mean equilibrium-line altitudes (ELAs) calculated by four methods (accumulation–area ratio, toe–headwall altitude ratio, lateral moraines and cirque floors) range from 3050 to 3300 m a.s.l. Modern mean summer temperatures (Ts) at the ELAs range from 8.7° to 11.2°C, while modern winter precipitation (P) ranges from 354 to 590 mm snow water equivalent (SWE). Based on the difference in elevation of mean ELAs across the range, LGM P values must have ranged from 940 to 3040 mm SWE, assuming the modern summer lapse rate was the same during the LGM. A Ts depression of 5.5°C is required for these precipitation values to plot in the range of modern ELA values. The reconstructed increase in P at the western end of the range is 10 times the modern increase, reflecting the influence of pluvial Lake Bonneville. Assuming ELA depression (ΔELA) resulted from this P increase and a uniform 5.5°C Ts decrease, the regional LGM ΔELA was approximately 900 m.
Permafrost existed around and under marginal parts of the southern Laurentide ice sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum. The presence of permafrost was important in determining the extent, form and dynamics of ice lobes and the landforms they produced because of influences on resistance to basal motion and subglacial hydrology. We develop a two-dimensional time-dependent model of permafrost and glacier-ice dynamics along a flowline to examine: (i) the extent to which permafrost survives under an advancing ice lobe and how it influences landform development and hydrology, and (ii) the influence of permafrost on ice motion and surface profile. The model is applied to the Green Bay lobe, which terminated near Madison, Wisconsin, during the Last Glacial Maximum. Simulations of ice advance over permafrost indicate that the bed upstream of the ice-sheet margin was frozen for 60–200 km at the glacial maximum. Permafrost remained for centuries to a few thousand years under advancing ice, and penetrated sufficiently deep (tens of meters) into the underlying aquifer that drainage of basal meltwater became inefficient, likely resulting in water storage beneath the glacier. Our results highlight the influence of permafrost on subglacial conditions, even though uncertainties in boundary conditions such as climate exist.
Deep gravel-pit exposures reveal the distribution and structure of till and underlying sand and gravel in drumlins near Waukesha, Wisconsin. The subglacial sediment is interpreted to have moved laterally into the drumlin sites because the till thickens from the margin to the core of the drumlins, the stone orientation in the till is perpendicular and oblique to ice flow on the drumlin margins, and recumbent isoclinal folds occur in sand on the drumlin margins with axes parallel to the drumlin axes. The resulting accumulations of sediment presented obstacles to ice flow and were streamlined into the minimum-drag drumlin shape by erosion on the margins and by remolding of material in the core of the drumlins. These drumlin nuclei may have formed at spots where there was low effective stress on the bed. The subglacial sediment became mobile as a result of high pore pressure that may have developed as ground water and subglacial melt water were trapped behind a frozen bed at the ice margin. Under certain conditions, however, lateral sediment flow might also have occurred when the sediment was frozen.
Late Wisconsin-age drumlins west of Milwaukee are clustered atop uplands bounded by discrete scarps. Gravel operations within the uplands have exposed drumlin cores of undeformed till and outwash beds which are truncated at the sides of the drumlin. In a few areas, clastic dikes, faults, overturned bedding and shear folds disturb the original layering. The drumlin shapes are blanketed with a basal till 1–3 m thick (“retreat” till) which truncates all internal structures. This till covering cannot be distinguished from the youngest truncated till (“advance” till).
Truncation of all of these structures shows that these drumlins are erosional forms carved from pre-existing drift. Apparently, during erosion under compressive flow, some beds became unstable and initiated large-scale movements of material into the drumlin from beneath the drumlin form. Failure and mobilization of the finer-grained beds may have been due to increased pore pressures, differing stages of dilatancy, or differing bulk densities. A growth relationship for drumlins may exist that is based upon the rates of material moving into the drumlin from below and rates of erosion of the drumlin form.
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