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As the late Pleistocene Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) retreated from the southern Puget Lowland and thinned rapidly, marine waters invaded the central and northern lowland, floating the residual ice and causing wholesale collapse of the CIS from southern Whidbey Island to southern British Columbia. Massive, poorly sorted Everson glaciomarine drift was deposited contemporaneously over the entire central and northern lowland. More than 160 14C dates show that the Everson interval began 12,500 14C yr B.P. and ended 11,700 14C yr B.P. Numerous marine strandlines record the drop in relative sea level in the Fraser Lowland from ~180 m (600 ft) at the end of the Everson interval to near present sea level.

Following emergence of the Fraser Lowland, a lobe of the CIS advanced from the Fraser Canyon near Sumas to Bellingham during the Sumas Stade. As the ice retreated, at least eight end moraines were built successively across the lowland, each marking a position of ice advance or stillstand that records late Pleistocene climatic fluctuations. About 40 new 14C dates indicate that the ages of these moraines span the Inter-Allerød–Younger Dryas intervals between 11,700 and 10,000 14C yr B.P. The 14C chronology allows correlation of the Sumas moraines with moraines in the Cascade Range, Rocky Mountains, Canada, Scandinavia, the European Alps, New Zealand, South America, and elsewhere. Late in the retreat of the ice, large outburst floods from an ice-dammed lake in British Columbia swept across the Sumas outwash plain, resulting in fluted topography and giant ripples on dune forms.

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