Abstract

A smoothed free air anomaly map of Canada indicates that the central part of the region occupied by the Laurentide Ice Sheet is over-compensated. Due to the close association of the free air gravity, the apparent crustal warping, the time of deglaciation, and the congruence of the gravity anomalies and the Wisconsin Glaciation, it is concluded that the over-compensation is due to incomplete recovery of the lithosphere from the displacement caused by the Pleistocene ice loads. The amplitude of the anomalies, about –50 milligals, suggests that a substantial amount of uplift has yet to occur and that the relaxation time of crustal warping is of the order of 10 000 to 20 000 y.The profile of the ground surface at the edge of a continental ice sheet on an elastic lithosphere is assessed using a value of the flexural parameter of the lithosphere calculated from gravity and deformation studies in the Interior Plains. The conclusions are: (a) a purely elastic forebulge is not likely to reach an amplitude of more than a few tens of meters; (b) the crust will be depressed for a considerable distance beyond the edge of the ice sheet; and (c) for large ice sheets crustal failure will probably occur in a preferential zone several hundred kilometers inside the maximum ice limit.

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