Abstract

The Tintina Trench in west-central Yukon has preserved an extensive record of late Cenozoic preglacial, glacial, and interglacial deposits. These deposits comprise multiple sequences of tills, outwash, loesses, and paleosols. The sediments that were laid down directly by ice (tills) are of both local (montane) and regional (Cordilleran) provenance. The Tintina Trench area was impacted repeatedly by montane ice from the southern Ogilvie Mountains to the northwest (2500 m above sea level (asl)), and also repeatedly along its southern extent by Cordilleran ice from the Selwyn Mountains to the east (2759 m asl), the latter forming the continental divide in this region. We report here the magnetostratigraphy of three sections: Rock Creek (64°13′N, 139°07′W), West Fifteenmile River (64°29′N, 139°55′W), and East Fifteenmile River (64°23′N, 139°48′W). The majority of the units identified at these sections record late Pliocene to mid-Pleistocene glaciations, although relatively thin surficial sequences of late middle Pleistocene to late Pleistocene loesses and tills are present as well. Of the 11 units described in the Tintina Trench, seven have normal polarity, three have reversed polarity, and one has an undefined polarity. These units span about 3.0 million years. It appears that most of the polarity chrons and subchrons of the late Cenozoic are present and that the sequence of six reversals record at least 10 glaciations (three in the Brunhes Chron and seven in the Matuyama Chron), and 11 interglaciations (four in the Brunhes Chron and seven in the Matuyama Chron). The interglacials are recorded as either paleosols or unconformities between glacial or loess units having opposite polarity. While not all Matuyama Chron glacial and interglacial cycles recorded in marine isotopic records are seen on land, the terrestrial records found in the Tintina Trench have thus far proven to be the most complete in terms of the polarity record. While no absolute ages were obtained from the sediments in the trench, the extensive polarity sequence constrains the timing of glaciations to a considerably greater degree than was previously possible for this region. The magnetostratigraphy of the trench sites are compared with the glacial, glaciofluvial, and loessic deposits at the nearby Klondike River valley and Fort Selkirk sites, central Yukon, where tephras and basalts provide absolute ages, and stratigraphic units contain an extensive late Cenozoic climate proxy for northwestern North America (eastern Beringia). In this study, we present new paleomagnetic polarity data and establish a magneto-lithostratigraphy describing preglacial, glacial, and interglacial deposits in the Tintina Trench. These deposits are referred to as the West Tintina Trench Allogroup and provide a broad framework for establishing a paleoclimate record for the northern Canadian Cordillera.

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