Abstract

Stabilized dune ridges occurring in northern Saskatchewan have previously been identified as variedly as "ice-crack moraines" and longitudinal dunes. Investigations of their morphological, structural, and sedimentary attributes reveal that they are, indeed, of eolian origin, but they form a particular group within the parabolic dune association, namely, the "Cree Lake type dune ridges." The ridges occur in association with other types of parabolic dunes and other eolian features, such as loess and wind-abraded glacial blocks and bedrock outcrops. The dunes and the associated eolian features were all formed by southeasterly paleowinds of uniform direction. The dune ridges developed from primary parabolic dunes of simple and composite types through the process of dune elongation. At the same time, exposed rock surfaces were abraded by the wind and loess was deposited downwind from the developing dune fields. The southeasterly direction of the paleowinds, which is almost directly opposite to the direction of the present-day winds affecting dunes in the Lake Athabasca area, was due to adiabatic air masses coming off the ice sheet from the east and affected eolian activity in quite a large region in northern Saskatchewan and Alberta. The somewhat cool and sufficiently dry adiabatic winds checked the vegetation on the dunes and in the areas around them. The development of the dune ridges came to an end when a sudden climatic change evoked the rapid stabilization of the dunes by vegetation but not before most of the ridges became partly deformed by southwesterly crosswinds resulting from the same climatic change. The period of eolian activity is estimated from the age of the local ice frontal positions to have been between 10 000 and 8800 years BP. Only one other region is known from North America, namely, the St. Lawrence Lowland in the east, where analogous eolian environment prevailed in the zone peripheral to the continental ice sheet and produced comparable eolian features.

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