Quantifying the pace of ice-sheet growth is critical to understanding ice-age climate and dynamics. Here, we show that the diversion of the Hudson River (northeastern North America) late in the last glaciation phase (ca. 30 ka), which some previous studies have speculated was due to glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA), can be used to infer the timing of the Laurentide Ice Sheet's growth to its maximum extent. Landscapes in the vicinity of glaciated regions have likely responded to crustal deformation produced by ice-sheet growth and decay through river drainage reorganization, given that rates of uplift and subsidence are on the order of tens of meters per thousand years. We perform global, gravitationally self-consistent simulations of GIA and input the predicted crustal deformation field into a landscape evolution model. Our calculations indicate that the eastward diversion of the Hudson River at 30 ka is consistent with exceptionally rapid growth of the Laurentide Ice Sheet late in the glaciation phase, beginning at 50–35 ka.

Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license