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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).
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