Abstract

Seismic stratigraphy, geometry, and sediment facies within the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) area of Ontario record major structural elements and surfaces of the Quaternary sedimentary sequence. The derived stratigraphic architecture can be used to identify the key elements of a regional erosional surface, represented by an unconformity in the subsurface, and associated overlying channel sediments. The erosional surface – unconformity forms a distinct time datum in the Quaternary sequence, which provides an important aid to lithostratigraphic correlation. The architecture also gives improved understanding of the effects of erosion on the late-glacial landscape. The surfaces of erosional drumlins and intervening troughs, and the beds and banks of meltwater channels in the ORM area, define the regional unconformity, highlighted by seismic profiles linked to continuously cored boreholes. These features are attributed to regional-scale, subglacial meltwater flow events. The sculpted surfaces, which are analogous to water-eroded forms, the presence of boulder lags and coarse-grained deposits on the regional erosional surface, and the channels with undulating profiles provide the vital supporting evidence for a meltwater interpretation. The inter-regional extent of the unconformity is inferred from the coherence of regional paleoflows and the extent of drumlinized uplands, tunnel channels, and scoured bedrock terrain across ∼75% of the landscape from the ORM area east and south to the Finger Lakes, New York. The implied magnitude of erosion suggests a pressing need for directed sedimentological study in those ocean basins that were probable depositional sites for flood deposits.

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