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The Dubawnt Lake palaeo-ice stream: evidence for dynamic ice sheet behaviour on the Canadian Shield and insights regarding the controls on ice-stream location and vigour\ud

By C.R. Stokes and C.D. Clark

Abstract

We report evidence for a major ice stream that operated over the northwestern Canadian Shield in the Keewatin Sector of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the last deglaciation 9000-8200 (uncalibrated) yr BP. It is reconstructed at 450rkm in length, 140rkm in width, and had an estimated catchment area of 190 000rkm². Mapping from satellite imagery reveals a suite of bedforms ('flow-set') characterized by a highly convergent onset zone, abrupt lateral margins, and where flow was presumed to have been fastest, a remarkably coherent pattern of mega-scale glacial lineations with lengths approaching 13rkm and elongation ratios in excess of 40:1. Spatial variations in bedform elongation within the flow-set match the expected velocity field of a terrestrial ice stream. The flow pattern does not appear to be steered by topography and its location on the hard bedrock of the Canadian Shield is surprising. A soft sedimentary basin may have influenced ice-stream activity by lubricating the bed over the downstream crystalline bedrock, but it is unlikely that it operated over a pervasively deforming till layer. The location of the ice stream challenges the view that they only arise in deep bedrock troughs or over thick deposits of 'soft' fine-grained sediments. We speculate that fast ice flow may have been triggered when a steep ice sheet surface gradient with high driving stresses contacted a proglacial lake. An increase in velocity through calving could have propagated fast ice flow upstream (in the vicinity of the Keewatin Ice Divide) through a series of thermomechanical feedback mechanisms. It exerted a considerable impact on the Laurentide Ice Sheet, forcing the demise of one of the last major ice centres.\ud \ud \u

Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:913

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