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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Evans, D.J.A., Young, N.J.P. & Ó Cofaigh, C. Glacial geomorphology of terrestrial- terminating fast flow lobes/ice stream margins in the southwest Laurentide Ice Sheet. Geomorphology. 2014;204:86-113.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Glacial geomorphological mapping of southern Alberta, Canada, reveals landform assemblages that are diagnostic of terrestrial-terminating ice streams/fast flowing outlet glaciers with lobate snouts. Spatial variability in features that comprise the landform assemblages reflects changes in (a) palaeo-ice stream activity (switch on/off); and (b) snout basal thermal regimes associated with climate sensitive, steady state flow. Palaeo-ice stream tracks reveal distinct inset sequences of fan-shaped flowsets indicative of receding lobate ice stream margins. Former ice lobe margins are demarcated by (a) major, often glacially overridden transverse moraine ridges, commonly comprising glacitectonically thrust bedrock; and (b) minor, closely spaced recessional push moraines and hummocky moraine arcs. Details of these landform types are well exhibited around the former southern margins of the Central Alberta Ice Stream, where larger scale, more intensive mapping identifies a complex glacial geomorphology comprising minor transverse ridges (MTR types 1–3), hummocky terrain (HT types 1–3), flutings, and meltwater channels/spillways. The MTR type 1 constitute the summit corrugation patterns of glacitectonic thrust moraines or major transverse ridges and have been glacially overrun and moderately streamlined. The MTR type 2 sequences are recessional push moraines similar to those developing at modern active temperate glacier snouts. The MTR type 3 document moraine construction by incremental stagnation because they occur in association with hummocky terrain. The close association of hummocky terrain with push moraine assemblages indicates that they are the products of supraglacial controlled deposition on a polythermal ice sheet margin, where the HT type 3 hummocks represent former ice-walled lake plains. The ice sheet marginal thermal regime switches indicated by the spatially variable landform assemblages in southern Alberta are consistent with palaeoglaciological reconstructions proposed for other ice stream/fast flow lobes of the southern Laurentide Ice Sheet, where alternate cold, polythermal, and temperate marginal conditions associated with climate sensitive, steady state flow sequentially gave way to more dynamic streaming and surging activity.

Department of Geography