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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Vaughan, J.M., England, J.H. & Evans, D.J.A. Glaciotectonic deformation and reinterpretation of the Worth Point stratigraphic sequence: Banks Island, NT, Canada. Quaternary Science Reviews. 2014;91:124-145.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Hill-hole pairs, comprising an ice-pushed hill and associated source depression, cluster in a belt along the west coast of Banks Island, NT. Ongoing coastal erosion at Worth Point, southwest Banks Island, has exposed a section (6 km long and ∼30 m high) through an ice-pushed hill that was transported ∼ 2 km from a corresponding source depression to the southeast. The exposed stratigraphic sequence is polydeformed and comprises folded and faulted rafts of Early Cretaceous and Late Tertiary bedrock, a prominent organic raft, Quaternary glacial sediments, and buried glacial ice. Three distinct structural domains can be identified within the stratigraphic sequence that represent proximal to distal deformation in an ice-marginal setting. Complex thrust sequences, interfering fold-sets, brecciated bedrock and widespread shear structures superimposed on this ice-marginally deformed sequence record subsequent deformation in a subglacial shear zone.

Analysis of cross-cutting relationships within the stratigraphic sequence combined with OSL dating indicate that the Worth Point hill-hole pair was deformed during two separate glaciotectonic events. Firstly, ice sheet advance constructed the hill-hole pair and glaciotectonized the strata ice-marginally, producing a proximal to distal deformation sequence. A glacioisostatically forced marine transgression resulted in extensive reworking of the strata and the deposition of a glaciomarine diamict. A readvance during this initial stage redeformed the strata in a subglacial shear zone, overprinting complex deformation structures and depositing a glaciotectonite ∼20 m thick. Outwash channels that incise the subglacially deformed strata record a deglacial marine regression, whereas aggradation of glaciofluvial sand and gravel infilling the channels record a subsequent marine transgression. Secondly, a later, largely non-erosive ice margin overrode Worth Point, deforming only the most surficial units in the section and depositing a capping till.

The investigation of the Worth Point stratigraphic sequence provides the first detailed description of the internal architecture of a polydeformed hill-hole pair, and as such provides an insight into the formation and evolution of an enigmatic landform. Notably, the stratigraphic sequence documents ice-marginal and subglacial glaciotectonics in permafrost terrain, as well as regional glacial and relative sea level histories. The reinterpreted stratigraphy fundamentally rejects the long-established paleoenvironmental history of Worth Point that assumed a simple ‘layer-cake’ stratigraphy including the type-site for an organically rich, preglacial interval (Worth Point Fm).

Department of Geography