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ABSTRACT

Volcanoes that interact with the cryosphere preserve indicators of their eruption environments. These glaciovolcanoes and their deposits have powerful potential as proxies of local and global paleoclimates. The Garibaldi volcanic belt is the northern (Canadian) segment of the Cascade volcanic arc. In this study, we compiled a comprehensive database of Quaternary volcanic landforms and deposits in the Garibaldi volcanic belt. We found that the region exhibits a high degree of volcanic diversity, and a significant component of this diversity is due to the abundance of glaciovolcanoes. These include: tuyas, tindars, subglacial tephra cones, ice-impounded lavas, subglacial domes and breccias, subglacial lava flows, and lava-dominated tuyas. As a group, they inform the presence, thickness, and transient properties of ancient, continental-scale ice sheets (i.e., the Cordilleran ice sheet) that have waxed and waned in thickness and extent across the region. We ascribe much of the character of glaciovolcanism in the Garibaldi volcanic belt to a wide range of magma compositions (alkaline basalt to rhyolite) and to the extreme relief of the landscape. We used forensic volcanologic evidence, in conjunction with our database, to define a terrestrial-based reconstruction of ice-sheet thickness and extent that spans the latter half of the Quaternary (i.e., past ~1 m.y.). We then compared our reconstruction to the marine isotope stage (MIS) record and found a number of positive correlations and discordances. We show glaciovolcanoes to be an excellent, and underutilized, proxy for Earth’s paleoclimate, and a powerful tool for reconstructing ice sheets predating the last glaciation.

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