Radiocarbon-dated benthonic foraminiferal zones in three cores provide new information on the evolution of the deep and intermediate water masses off Gaspé Peninsula. The deglacial phase in the deep Laurentian Channel began before 14 000 BP and was characterized by low-salinity (<20‰) or alternating low-salinity and saline (~35‰) water. This was followed by a cold saline phase, which ended ca. 13 500 BP, and a salinity minimum (30–33.5‰), which began ca. 12 100 BP. Between 8700 and 7900 BP, the temperature and salinity of the deep water mass increased, resulting in the modern deep water mass (temperature 4–6 °C, salinity 34.5–34.9‰) at the end of the Goldthwait Sea episode. The salinity of the deep water was apparently controlled by the meltwater flux from the ice front during the deglacial phase. After the deglacial phase the characteristics of the deep water mass were determined by the composition of offshore water entering the Laurentian Channel. Runoff from the Lake Agassiz – Great Lakes system does not appear to have mixed with the deep water of the Goldthwait Sea. The deglacial phase in Chaleur Trough, which is within the intermediate water mass, began before 12 200 BP. The temperature of the intermediate water mass has remained close to 0 °C after deglaciation; however, the salinity has increased from 25–30‰ at 12 200 BP to about 33.5‰ by 5900 BP.

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