Abstract

Drumlins and erosional marks in bedrock give evidence for broad, subglacial meltwater floods that have discharge-rate estimates of about 106 m3/s. Similar discharge rates are obtained for other late glacial catastrophic floods. The total volume of meltwater that is thought to have formed the Livingstone Lake, Saskatchewan, drumlin field is estimated at 8.4 x 104 km3. This volume is equivalent to a eustatic rise of 0.23 m in global sea level. Meltwater release and roughly contemporaneous formation of drumlin fields in North America and Europe could have involved several metres of sea-level rise in a few years. The implications of such floods for the generation of myths and the interpretation of the oxygen isotopic record of the oceans are discussed. High meltwater discharges are of potential importance to the generation of a lid of cold, fresh water over the North Atlantic and its effects on late glacial climate.

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