Abstract

Cosmogenic 36Cl/Cl ratios measured from glacially eroded bedrock provide the first quantitative constraints on the magnitude, rate, and spatial distribution of glacial erosion over the last glacial cycle. Of 23 36Cl/Cl ratios, 8 yield exposure ages that predate the well-constrained deglaciation of the Puget Lowland, Washington, and are inferred to result from 36Cl inherited from prior exposure during the last interglaciation where ice did not erode enough rock (∼1.80–2.95 m) to reset 36Cl/Cl ratios to background levels. Surfaces possessing inherited 36Cl evidently were abraded only 0.25–1.06 m, corresponding to abrasion rates of 0.09–0.35 mm ṁ yr−1. These results indicate that in the absence of glacial quarrying, the Cordilleran ice sheet may have abraded as little as 1–2 m of bedrock near its equilibrium-line altitude over the last glacial cycle, equating to only tens of meters over the entire Quaternary.

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