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The conventional assumption that erosion by ice sheets is pervasive and effective in landscape evolution is tested in northern Sweden using geomorphic mapping and cosmogenic nuclide analyses of formerly glaciated surfaces. The following evidence indicates that recent glaciations in this region have produced only slow and patchy landscape evolution: (1) Geomorphic mapping shows that at least 20% of the repeatedly glaciated study region in the northern Swedish mountains has landforms that are relict, i.e., clearly nonglacial in origin. (2) The contrast between cosmogenic apparent exposure ages from relict landforms in the northern Swedish mountains and from overlying glacial erratics and juxtaposed glacially eroded bedrock surfaces, which are consistent with last deglaciation, implies that the relict landforms have been preserved through multiple glacial cycles. (3) Apparent 10Be and 26Al exposure ages for tor summit bedrock surfaces in the northern Swedish lowlands reveal that these relict landforms have survived at least eleven exposure and ten burial events with little or no erosion over the past ∼1 m.y. (4) The northern Swedish lowland and mountains are primarily covered by glacial landforms. However geomorphic mapping suggests that even these landforms may have undergone limited erosion during the last glacial cycle. Cosmogenic 10Be and 36Cl data from what appear to be heavily scoured areas in one glacial corridor indicate erosion of only ∼2 ± 0.4 m of bedrock during the last glaciation. These results suggest that in some areas the overall modification produced by ice sheets may be more restricted than previously thought, or it has occurred preferentially during earlier Quaternary glacial periods.

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