Abstract

Long, arcuate, stratified end moraines in northwestern Ontario may represent major and rapid sedimentation events in glacial Lake Agassiz. Rapid lowering of the lake or lift of a marginal ice dam may have triggered widespread outbursts of subglacial meltwater which deposited these end moraines as coalesced or broad subaqueous lacustrine fans. Moraine cores are of undeformed gravel, sand, and silty sand that fine upward. Coarse beds are massive to weakly stratified. Large-scale cross-stratification may be present. Sandy rhythmic beds are laterally transitional to silt–clay rhythmites (varves). Similar facies occur in adjoining eskers.Moraine sediments have the expected characteristics of rapid deposition on subaqueous fans and, therefore, may not represent either prolonged sedimentation or stable ice margins. Rather, they may reflect rapid sedimentation associated with large discharges that induced transient instability in the drainage network and (or) surging prior to marginal sedimentation. This explanation for moraine formation questions the traditional view that large end moraines represent climatically controlled stillstands.

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