Glaciation is schematically considered as a perturbation of “normal” fluvial conditions. Drift is unstable in a proglacial or postglacial fluvial environment, resulting in heightened sediment movement that continues as long as drift material remains easily accessible for fluvial erosion and transportation. Sediment yield bears no relation to concurrent primary production of weathered debris.

Examples of such “paraglacial” denudation and sedimentation are reported from two contrasting areas. Postglacial valley alluvial deposits are widespread in central Baffin Island where rapid sedimentation continues today; estimated denudation rates are an order of magnitude higher than in comparable unperturbed areas. In south-central British Columbia, rapid sedimentation during the paraglacial period contrasts sharply with present-day conditions.

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