Abstract

Glacimarine sedimentary deposits within the basins of Muir Inlet, a 48-km-long silled fjord, are interpreted from complimentary sets of high-resolution, seismic-reflection profiles using known glacial-advance and retreat history. Two prominent glacial erosion surfaces are identified: the lowest attributed to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) advance and the upper coincident with the Little Ice Age (LIA) advance. The LGM ice sheet, which advanced onto the continental shelf, was 1700 m thick in Muir Inlet and eroded bedrock, whereas the thinner LIA ice did not. LGM deposits >300 m thick occur beneath the LIA erosion surface in the deepest basins. Evidence for earlier Neoglacial advances is present in subaerial deposits; however, Neoglacial sediments preserved within the marine record are restricted to one depositional package on the entrance sill. Volumes of LIA retreat sediments were calculated within basins. An average annual sediment flux was calculated by modeling the duration of sediment contributed from Muir Glacier and from tributary glaciers and side-entry sources. The annual sediment flux ranged from 1.3 × 106 m3/yr to 4.6 × 107 m3/yr and increases logarithmically with increasing drainage basin area, similar to fluvial systems. This sediment flux does not only represent bedrock erosion. Additional sediment is contributed from persistent tributary glaciers and from LGM sediment stored within deeper basins. Basin-wide reflections characterize the most common seismic facies and indicate that strata are horizontal and continuous across each basin, confirming the importance of sediment gravity flows originating from sills and sloping fjord walls.

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