Abstract

Field evidence in the Koryak Mountains–Lake Mainitz region of far eastern Russia supports three Pleistocene glacial advances. The early Wisconsinan and pre-Wisconsinan glaciations are represented by broad lobate moraines extending as much as 30 km north of the Koryak Mountains. Field evidence demonstrates that the terminal, lateral, and medial moraines, as well as meltwater channels, dead ice topography, kettles, and outwash plains mark the extent of ice during the last glacial maximum (LGM), during which glaciers reached no more than 20 km beyond their present limits. Those emanating from the southern Koryak Mountains may have reached the Bering Sea. Numerical and relative dating techniques support these results and test the theoretical models of the LGM in western Beringia. Erratics on moraines and glaciofluvial terraces, common to all valleys at 13–13.8 m above river level, yield 36Cl exposure ages ranging from 10.08 to 25.78 ka. The Koryak Mountains–Lake Mainitz record of glaciation is spatially and temporally consistent with the glaciation pattern across central Beringia found in other terrestrial and marine records. Glacier growth in the Koryak Mountains was sustained by possible increased summer sea surface temperatures and precipitation in the northwest Pacific region. Evidence from the northern Koryak Mountains (lat 64°N, long 177°E) indicates that the extent of ice in western Beringia was limited to mountain and valley glaciers during the LGM. This field-based research contradicts M.G. Grosswald's theoretical Beringian ice sheet hypothesis.

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