Abstract

Clements Markham Inlet cuts into the Grant Land Mountains of the northernmost coast of Ellesmere Island. The head of the inlet is bounded on three sides by mountain ice caps that surround lowlands mantled by extensive raised marine deposits. Fieldwork and mapping of late Quaternary sediments were used to determine the limits of past glaciations and the nature of ice retreat from the inlet head. Forty-five radiocarbon dates on driftwood and marine shells provide a deglacial chronology and document related sea-level adjustments.High-level ice-marginal meltwater channels and mountain summit erratics indicate that ice once inundated all of Clements Markham Inlet. During at least one of these undated glaciations, ice flowed unconstrained by the local topography. In contrast, the most recent glaciation involved confluent trunk glaciers, which terminated near the head of the inlet. Beyond this terminus, smaller glaciers entering the sides of the inlet debouched into a glacioisostatically depressed sea (full glacial sea). Retreat from the last glaciation is documented by moraines, kame terraces, and ice-contact deltas.Inside the ice limit at the head of the inlet, sections commonly show that a marine transgression occurred immediately after the retreat of the ice. Conversely, sections outside the last ice limit, along the sides of the inlet, show complex intercalations of marine and glacigenic sediments. These indicate proximal ice-front conditions where small valley glaciers locally contacted the sea.The oldest date on the last ice limit is 9845 BP. After this, slow retreat was in progress, and some glaciers were within 6 km of their current positions by ca. 9700 BP. At the head of the inlet, the mouths of the confluent valleys became ice free by 8000 BP. After 8000 BP, glacial retreat accelerated greatly, so that the entire lowland became ice free within 400 years.Relative sea-level curves from the inlet indicate ice-load changes that confirm this pattern of ice retreat. Outside the last ice limit, the full glacial sea reached 124 m asl by at least 10 000 BP. Emergence from this sea occurred slowly between at least 10 000 and 8000 BP (0.72 m 100 year−1). This period was followed by "normal" rapid postglacial emergence, which decelerated to the present.The marine limit of the full glacial sea rises from 92 m asl, at the outer coast, to 124 m asl near the last ice limit at the head of the inlet. Initial emergence from the full glacial sea occurred simultaneously throughout the inlet. On the proximal side of the last ice limit, the marine limit descends in the up-ice direction and becomes progressively younger. Individual strandlines tilt up in a southwesterly direction towards the central Grant Land Mountains, suggesting a former centre of glacio-isostatic loading in that area.

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