Abstract

Moraines of two different age groups have been identified fronting the present-day glaciers and snowfields in Glacier National Park, Montana. The subdued, vegetated moraines of the older group have been found at 25 sites, mainly in the central part of the Lewis Range. These older moraines are in places overlain by the Mazama ash. Although the exact age of the moraines has not been determined by radiocarbon dating, vegetative evidence and correlation with other pre-altithermal age moraines in the Rocky Mountains suggest that these older moraines date from 10 000 BP or earlier. Whether these moraines are the product of a separate advance after the end of the Wisconsin glaciation or are simply the product of the last advance or stillstand of Wisconsin glaciers before final deglaciation is not known.Moraines of the younger group, consisting of fresh bouldery rubble, are common throughout Glacier Park. Tree-ring analyses indicate that some of these younger moraines were deposited by advances that culminated during the mid-19th century. At that time there were more than 150 glaciers in Glacier Park. This episode of mid-19th century climatic cooling resulted in the most extensive glacial advance in this region since the end of the Wisconsin glaciation.Present-day glaciers have shrunk drastically from their mid-19th century positions; more than half the glaciers present during that time no longer exist. Much of this retreat occurred between 1920 and the mid-1940's, corresponding to a period of above-average summer temperatures and below-average annual precipitation in this region. Between 1966 and 1979, several of the larger glaciers in the Mount Jackson area of Glacier Park advanced as much as 100 m.

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