Abstract

The late Quaternary olistostrome exposed in the lower Coppermine River valley fills a paleovalley that ranges in apparent width from 150 to 400 m and was cut into Precambrian bedrock before the last glaciation. The olistostrome is here named the Sleigh Creek Formation. The coarse fraction of the formation is matrix supported; beds are massive or reversely graded and have sharp, nonerosive contacts. These characteristics suggest deposition of the coarse fraction by debris flows. The olistostrome sequence is bracketed by, and wedged into, a marine rhythmite sequence, which indicates that deposition occurred in a marine environment.About 10 500 years BP glacier ice in the Coronation Gulf lowland dammed the valley to the south, which was occupied by glacial Lake Coppermine. Sediments accumulated in this lake in a 30 m thick, coarsening upward sequence ranging from glaciolacustrine rhythmites of silt and fine sand at the base to coarse sand alluvium, and deltaic gravels at the top. As the Coronation Gulf lowlands became ice free, the Coppermine River reoccupied its former drainage course to the north. The steep south to north gradient and rapid downcutting by the river through the glacial lake sediments produced unstable slope conditions. The resulting debris flows filled a bedrock valley network below the postglacial sea level, forming the diamicton sequence.The interpretation of the Sleigh Creek Formation raises questions concerning silimar diamicton deposits usually defined as "flowtills." More generally, the results of this study indicate that care must be used when attempting paleogeographic reconstructions of "glaciogenic" deposits in marine sequences in any part of the geologic record.

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