Abstract

Ice dynamics, tectonic setting, and sediment supply are the key parameters controlling the architecture of high-latitude margins and the formation of trough mouth fans (TMFs). Current understanding of these archives of paleo–ice streams is based on studies of ice sheets adjacent to stable, passive margins, while the behavior of active, convergent glacier-influenced margins remains relatively unconstrained. We integrate high-resolution seismic data and chronology from Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 341 cores in southeast Alaska across the actively converging Yakutat terrane margin to examine the late Quaternary evolution of the Bering Glacier, the largest outlet glacier of the poorly understood Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS). We interpret at least eight glacial advances to the shelf break since the end of the mid-Pleistocene transition, showing a more dynamic CIS than hitherto realized. During the past ∼130 k.y., the temperate, meltwater-charged Bering Glacier delivered ∼925 km3 of sediment to the shelf and slope, providing one of the highest rates of sustained sediment accumulation (5–10 m/k.y.) ever reported globally. Rapid formation of a TMF, reaching ∼600 m thick in ∼130 k.y., emphasizes the extreme sediment flux that can be produced by wet-based glacial systems, and its critical role in the development of high-latitude margin stratigraphy. TMF formation despite initially steep, tectonically controlled slopes in this active setting reflects an autogenic shift in the evolution of the Bering Trough, suggesting that major transitions between sedimentary regimes need not reflect some externally driven change in climate variability.

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