Abstract

Seventy-three new 10Be/26Al ages from 57 moraine boulders and 2 tors, together with 43 previously published cosmogenic exposure ages from 41 moraine boulders, allow us to critique the use of cosmogenic exposure (CE) dating of moraine boulders in Alaska. Boulder exhumation during moraine degradation likely gives rise to the largest uncertainty in constraining the timing of initial moraine stabilization following ice retreat. Isotopic inheritance appears to be most important for moraines deposited close to their cirque headwalls. Boulder-surface (bedrock) erosion rate can be roughly constrained and leads to a range in moraine stabilization ages. Snow-cover history is difficult to constrain, but its effect is thought to be minor for the tall boulders sampled.

Despite these complications, the CE ages provide important new information regarding the timing of the last and penultimate glaciations in Alaska. Three penultimate moraines yielded CE ages that overlap with marine isotope stage (MIS) 4/early MIS 3 (45–65 ka) rather than MIS 6 (ca. 140 ka). Based on a combination of our new CE chronologies and existing 14C ages from six study areas, glaciers retreated from their local late Wisconsin maxima: ca. 24–27 ka, Kokrines Hills (west-interior Alaska); ca. 24–26 ka, northeastern Brooks Range (NE Alaska); ca. 21–23 ka, Yukon Tanana Upland (east-interior Alaska); ca. 22 ka, Ahklun Mountains (SW Alaska); ca. 20 ka, western Alaska Range (central Alaska); ca. 16–18 ka, Chuilnuk Mountains (SW Alaska). Overall, glacier retreat was concurrent with the peak of the last global glacial maximum, probably in response to limited moisture availability.

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