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Evidence against a late Wisconsinan ice shelf in the Gulf of Maine

January 1, 1990

Proposals for the formation of a late Wisconsinan ice shelf in the Gulf of Maine during the retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet are considered to be inappropriate. An Antarctic-type ice shelf does not fit the field data that indicate temperate glacial, terrestrial, and marine climates for the region between 18 ka and 12 ka. A temperate ice shelf has no modern analogues and may be physically impossible. The preponderance of stratified drift in the Gulf of Maine region supports temperate climates during late Wisconsinan time. It also indicates that glacial meltwater, rather than ice in either an ice sheet or ice shelf, was the primary transport mechanism of glacial sediment and the source for the glaciomarine mud. For these reasons we have proposed glacial analogues for the deglaciation of the Gulf of Maine that consist of temperate or subpolar marine-based glaciers, characterized by depositional environments dominated by meltwater discharge directly to the sea or the sea by way of subaerial meltwater streams. These analogues include Alaskan fjord glaciers, glaciers on the Alaskan continental shelf that discharged meltwater directly into the sea in the not too distant past, and Austfonna (Nordaustandet, Svalbard, Norway) that is presently discharging meltwater in the sea along a grounded ice wall. This last example is the best modern-day analogue for the depositional environment for most of the glaciomarine mud in the Gulf of Maine and deglaciation of the Gulf. 

Publication Year 1990
Title Evidence against a late Wisconsinan ice shelf in the Gulf of Maine
DOI 10.1016/0277-3791(90)90002-R
Authors R. N. Oldale, R.S. Williams, Steven M. Colman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Quaternary Science Reviews
Index ID 70015972
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center