The Glacier Peak Tephra: A Continental-Scale Latest Pleistocene Time Horizon

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Sean Pyne-O'Donnell1, Les C. Cwynar2, Jessie H Vincent2, Ray Spear3 and Duane G Froese4, (1)Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, BT9, United Kingdom, (2)University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada, (3)State University of New York at Geneseo, Department of Biology, Geneseo, NY, United States, (4)University of Alberta, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Edmonton, AB, Canada
The latest Pleistocene eruptions of Glacier Peak in the Cascade Range deposited a widespread set of tephras throughout much of western North America within a short time span where they serve as valuable marker layers for inter-site correlation and chronostratigraphical control. We report the detection of these tephras in microscopic form in three lakes along the Eastern Seaboard (Maine and Nova Scotia). These distinct distal lake layers occur as closely spaced couplets which retain the subtle geochemical variation that characterises the proximal Glacier Peak G and B layers. New radiocarbon dates for the tephras also closely corroborate the most recently revised proximal dates for the tephras (ca. 13,700 – 13,400 cal. yr B.P) which found that they are ca. 400 14C yr older than hitherto thought. Their presence this far eastward implies that their deposition spans the intervening continent (>4000 km) and adds to a developing distal tephrostratigraphical framework with applications to studies of latest Pleistocene deglaciation and environmental change, megafaunal extinction and archaeology.