Cold-climate slope deposits and landscape modifications of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, Eastern USA
W. L. Newell, B. D. Dejong, 2011. "Cold-climate slope deposits and landscape modifications of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, Eastern USA", Ice-Marginal and Periglacial Processes and Sediments, I. P. Martini, H. M. French, A. PéRez Alberti
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The effects of Pleistocene cold-climate geomorphology are distributed across the weathered and eroded Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain uplands from the Wisconsinan terminal moraine south to Tidewater Virginia. Cold-climate deposits and landscape modifications are superimposed on antecedent landscapes of old, weathered Neogene upland gravels and Pleistocene marine terraces that had been built during warm periods and sea-level highstands. In New Jersey, sequences of surficial deposits define a long history of repeating climate change events. To the south across the Delmarva Peninsula and southern Maryland, most antecedent topography has been obscured by Late Pleistocene surficial deposits. These are spatially variable and are collectively described as a cold-climate alloformation. The cold-climate alloformation includes time-transgressive details of climate deterioration from at least marine isotope stage (MIS) 4 through the end of MIS 2. Some deposits and landforms within the alloformation may be as young as the Younger Dryas. Southwards along the trend of the Potomac River, these deposits and their climatic affinities become diffused. In Virginia, a continuum of erosion and surficial deposits appears to be the product of ‘normal’ temperate, climate-forced processes. The cold-climate alloformation and more temperate deposits in Virginia are being partly covered by Holocene alluvium and bay mud.
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Understanding the sediments deposited by glaciers or other cold-climate processes assumes enhanced significance in the context of current global warming and the predicted melt and retreat of glaciers and ice sheets.
This volume analyses glacial, proglacial and periglacial settings focusing, among others, on sedimentation at termini of tidewater glaciers, on hitherto not-well-understood high-mountain features, and on sediments such as slope and aeolian deposits whose clasts were sourced in glacial and periglacial regions, but have been transported and deposited by azonal processes. Difficulties are thus often encountered in inferring Pleistocene and pre-Pleistocene cold-climate conditions when the sedimentary record lacks many of the specific diagnostic indicators. The main objective of this volume is to establish the validity and limitations of the evidence that can be obtained from widely distributed clastic deposits, in order to achieve reliable palaeogeographic and palaeoclimatic reconstructions. At a more general level and on the much longer geological timescale, an understanding of ice-marginal and periglacial environments may better prepare us for the unavoidable reversal towards cooler and perhaps even glacial times in the future.