Abstract

Lift-off moraines are acoustically incoherent, subparallel ridges observed on sidescan sonograms and high-resolution reflection seismic profiles on the southeastern continental margin of Canada. They are up to 3 m high, 20–80 m wide, and are commonly overlain by stratified proglacial sediments. Although little is known about them, detailed study of high-resolution seismic profiles from the Emerald Basin and the LaHave Basin, on the Scotian Shelf, show that their height:width ratio varies with the sounder–seabed separation, suggesting that the ridges may be narrower than they appear. Their morphology is similar to DeGeer moraines or cross-valley moraines, which form perpendicular to ice-flow direction. As their orientations can be estimated at the intersection of seismic lines, they can be used to estimate ice-flow directions. Since proglacial sediments are draped directly over top of them, they are assumed to record the direction of last ice flow. This directional data suggests that ice retreated not only northward (to Nova Scotia), but also toward local topographic highs on the continental shelf, which acted as anchoring points for ice rises around both the Emerald and LaHave Basins. This pattern of ice-flow directions suggests that ice flowed from the high ground of banks, converging into basin deeps, suggesting that small moraines within the basins are probably of interlobate origin.

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