Abstract

Sediments in lower Chehalis valley span middle Wisconsin (Olympia nonglacial interval) to Holocene time. Sediments are divided into six units with chronological control provided by 14 new radiocarbon ages. Fluvial gravel spans the transition from the late Olympia nonglacial interval to the early Fraser Glaciation. Glaciolacustrine sedimentation represents the first definitive glacial activity in the valley and indicates that Vashon ice in the Fraser Lowland blocked the mouth of the Chehalis valley at ca. 18–17 ka BP. Ice then flowed down the Chehalis valley. The Chehalis valley deglaciated while ice persisted in the Fraser Lowland, forming another lake. After this lake drained, terraces and fans formed. This style of glaciation–deglaciation is typical of many watersheds peripheral to the Fraser Lowland in that local valley ice was slightly out of phase with ice in the lowland. This resulted in glacial lakes forming during both advance and retreat phases. However, in contrast to watersheds in the northwestern Fraser Lowland, no definitive evidence of a Coquitlam ice advance was found within the Chehalis valley. Although glaciers in the area were likely active and advancing, data from the Chehalis valley indicates that they were not as extensive as previously thought. Since ice source areas in the northeastern Fraser Lowland are in the leeward area of the Coast Mountains, it is suggested that lower precipitation resulted in limited glacier activity there during the Coquitlam Stade.

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