Abstract

In Canada, glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) is the dominant process to cause vertical motion of the land surface. A GIA model is presented herein that can be used to predict slope changes at given locations in North America where GIA is the primary cause for vertical motion. Uncertainty in Pleistocene ice cover and viscosity in the Earth’s mantle prevent one from picking a single GIA model from the literature to predict uplift rates in the region. Therefore, in this study, a range of mantle viscosity values as well as two different ice-loading histories are used in a forward model of the GIA process. The combination of viscosities and ice model that gives the best fit to recently available continuous and episodic GPS observations is assumed to provide the best prediction of slope changes in North America. This model can be used to quantify GIA-induced vertical deformation in local geomorphologic studies. We show that the predicted differential uplift rate in the Nelson River with respect to Lake Winnipeg reaches 1 mm/year over a 200 km distance using the model that best fits the GPS data whereas the ICE-5Gv1.2/VM2 model gives a slightly larger value. The difference in uplift rate between the northern and southern shore of Lake Michigan amounts up to 3 mm/year (slightly larger than the ICE-5Gv1.2/VM2 model), which could lead to a change in shorelines of tens of metres horizontally over a period of 100 years.

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