Abstract

Reconstructions of the ice-surface morphology of several lobes of the southern Laurentide Ice Sheet reinforce previous arguments that this sector of the ice sheet was thin and low sloping. Driving stresses, estimated from the geometry of the reconstructed ice surfaces, are 0.7-4.3 kPa for the 14 ka Des Moines Lobe, 0.9-1.2 kPa for the 14 ka James Lobe, 0.9-1.7 kPa for the 18-20 ka Lake Michigan Lobe, 1.8-2.9 kPa for the 15-18 ka Chippewa Sublobe, and 17-22 kPa for the 15-18 ka Green Bay Lobe. Previous estimates of rates of ice-margin advance (450-2,000 m/yr) indicate moderate-to-fast ice velocities for the ice lobes. Reconstructed driving stresses and velocity estimates of the Des Moines, James, and Lake Michigan Lobes are analogous to the distal ends ("ice Plains") of low-sloping (0.4 X 10-3) but fast moving (500 m/yr) West Antarctic ice streams, whose dynamics have been attributed to sliding and/or subglacial sediment deformation by pervasive shear. These reconstructions support recent models of the Laurentide Ice Sheet which include movement by sliding or by subglacial sediment deformation along its southern, western, and northwestern sectors; evidence for either mechanism should be represented in the sedimentologic and geomorphic records. Thin ice in these regions indicates that the Laurentide Ice Sheet contained less ice volume and represented less of an orographic obstacle to atmospheric circulation than has been considered in models of the ice sheet on a rigid bed with steep profiles.

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