Abstract

The glacial history of the broad interior of northeastern Ellesmere Island is first documented here. Studies of glacial geomorphology and marine and lacustrine sedimentology indicate that the region was inundated by cold-based ice emanating from the Grant Land Mountains sector of the Innuitian Ice Sheet during the last glacial maximum. Retreat of coalescent, marine-based Ellesmere and Greenland ice from Robeson Channel had started by 10.1 ka BP and reached the mouths of many fiords along southeast Hazen Plateau by 8 ka BP. Proglacial meltwater channels emanating from plateau ice caps, crosscut lateral meltwater channels marking the retreat of Grant Land Mountain ice. The crosscutting is interpreted to reflect an early Holocene growth of plateau ice caps concurrent with the retreat of marine-based margins. This suggests that initial regional ice retreat was eustatically controlled. Stabilization of glacier margins at the heads of fiords occurred by 7.5-7 ka BP, after which land-based margins retreated as little as 10 km by 6 ka BP. Across much of northeastern Hazen Plateau, however, Grant Land Mountain ice retreated more rapidly. This more rapid retreat was accentuated by the impoundment of proglacial lakes against the plateau to the south and the subsequent breakup of ice by calving. Glaciers continued to occupy much of Lake Hazen Basin at 5.3 ka BP, after which they broke up rapidly in a proto-Lake Hazen, retreating to margins at, or behind, those of the present by 5 ka BP.

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