Late Wisconsinan grounding zones of the Laurentide Ice Sheet margin off the Québec North Shore (NW Gulf of St Lawrence)
Published:January 01, 2019
P. Lajeunesse, P. Dietrich, J.-F. Ghienne, 2019. "Late Wisconsinan grounding zones of the Laurentide Ice Sheet margin off the Québec North Shore (NW Gulf of St Lawrence)", Glaciated Margins: The Sedimentary and Geophysical Archive, D.P. Le Heron, K.A. Hogan, E.R. Phillips, M. Huuse, M.E. Busfield, A.G.C. Graham
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Swath bathymetry data and seismic profiles collected in the NW Gulf of St Lawrence reveal a series of wedge-shaped depositional systems interpreted as grounding zone wedges (GZWs). Some segments of the GZWs change locally to form frontal moraines, or morainal banks, and subaqueous ice-contact fans, reflecting changes in either the nature of the ice margin or the rate of sediment input. These grounding zones (GZ) of the ice margin extend laterally along three isobaths at depths of 180 (GZ1), 120 (GZ2) and 80 (GZ3) m (±20 m) along the Québec North Shore shelf, the 120 m-deep GZ2 system being traceable over a distance of >300 km. Associated GZWs can occur in three geometries along a same isobath system: curvilinear, lobate and shelf-break. GZ systems were built during three distinct stages of stabilization of the marine-based southeastern margin of the Laurentide Ice Sheet following its rapid retreat across the deeper waters of the Laurentian Channel in the Gulf of St Lawrence after 14.8 cal ka BP. The occurrence of GZ along distinct isobaths indicates that bathymetry exerted a strong control on ice stabilization during deglaciation by reducing the relative water depth at the ice margin and thereby the buoyancy and rate of iceberg calving. However, fluctuations and re-advances of the ice margin are also recorded by the overprinting of a portion of the GZ2 system by the younger GZ3 system, potentially suggesting an additional response to climate-driven forcing.
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Understanding the sedimentary and geophysical archive of glaciated margins is a complex task that requires integration and analysis of disparate sedimentological and geophysical data. Their analysis is vital for understanding the dynamics of past ice sheets and how they interact with their neighbouring marine basins, on timescales that cannot be captured by observations of the cryosphere today. As resources, sediments deposited on the inner margins of glaciated shelves also exhibit resource potential where more sand-dominated systems occur, acting as reservoirs for both hydrocarbons and water. This book surveys the full gamut of glaciated margins, from deep time (Neoproterozoic, Ordovician and Carboniferous–Permian) to modern high-latitude margins in Canada and Antarctica. This collection of papers is the first attempt to deliberately do this, allowing not only the similarities and differences between modern and ancient glaciated margins to be explored, but also the wide spectrum of their mechanisms of investigation to be probed. Together, these papers offer a high-resolution, spatially and temporally diverse blueprint of the depositional processes, ice sheet dynamics, and basin architectures of the world’s former glaciated margins; a vital resource in advancing understanding of our present and future marine-terminating ice sheet margins.