Abstract

We present new Sm–Nd isotope data for sediments from a core located on the continental slope of the St. Pierre Bank of Canada’s east coast. The Nd analyses indicate that the sediments were derived from two principal sources: the North American Shield that yields an average early Proterozoic isotopic signature and a younger Proterozoic signature attributed to Appalachian crustal sources. The Appalachian-sourced sediments predominated during the last glacial maximum (LGM) and were associated with low sedimentation rates (<30 cm/ka), with the exception of a strong North American Shield signature present in a detrital carbonate layer that corresponds to Heinrich Layer 1 (H1). The dominance of the Appalachian signature decreased subsequent to H1. The Appalachian signatures closely follow the distribution of sediments interpreted as locally derived glacial tills, while the North American Shield signatures follow the distribution of hemipelagic mud that was likely deposited by the Labrador Current. The Nd data are consistent with the persistence of the Wisconsinan Ice Sheet coverage of Newfoundland and the Grand Banks after the LGM, although the coverage began to wane prior to 12.5 ka as evidenced by the increasing influence of the Labrador Current. However, an increase in the Appalachian isotope signature at the close of the Younger Dryas event likely indicates the final melting of the ice sheet covering the Grand Banks and the Avalon Peninsula, and the initiation of the Labrador Current’s modern circulation pathway.

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