Abstract

The Laurentide Ice Sheet reached the Canadian Cordillera during the last glacial maximum in northeastern British Columbia and adjacent Northwest Territories and all regional drainage to unglaciated areas in the north was dammed by the ice. Converging ice-flow patterns near the mountain front suggest that the Laurentide Ice Sheet likely coalesced with the Cordilleran Ice Sheet during the last glaciation. With deglaciation, the ice masses separated, but earlier ice retreat in the south meant that meltwater pooled between the mountain front and the Laurentide margin. The level of the flooding was controlled by persistent ice cover on the southern Franklin Mountains. Glacial Lake Liard formed when the Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated east of the southern Liard Range and, at its maximum extent, may have impounded water at least as far south as the Fort Nelson River. Deglaciation of the plains was marked by local variations in ice flow caused by a thin ice sheet becoming more affected by the topography and forming lobes in places. These lobes caused diversions in local drainage readily traced by abandoned meltwater channels. Radiocarbon ages from adjacent areas suggest the relative chronology of deglaciation presented here occurred between 13 and 11 ka BP.

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