Abstract

The history of meltwater flow from the Laurentide Ice Sheet to the Gulf of Mexico during the last deglaciation, which holds possible implications for the cause of the Younger Dryas cold episode, is not well understood. We propose a new chronology based on using the percentage of reworked calcareous nannofossils in Orca Basin sediments as a proxy for erosion. The period of greatest meltwater flow to the gulf was between 12.7 and 12.1 ka (during the Bølling warm interval), and flow remained high until the beginning of the Younger Dryas cold episode at 11.3 ka; this corresponds to meltwater pulse IA. A sharp meltwater decrease at 12.2 ka may represent the Older Dryas glacial readvance. Little or no meltwater is inferred to have flowed to the gulf from ∼10 to 9 ka, which is the time of the second major meltwater pulse, IB. Therefore, meltwater must have been permanently diverted away from the Gulf of Mexico at the beginning of the Younger Dryas.

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