Cordilleran Ice Sheet meltwater delivery to the coastal waters of the northeast Pacific Ocean
Abstract:Cordilleran Ice Sheet (CIS) delivered meltwater to the NE Pacific Ocean off BC and WA via glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), ice rafting and subglacial meltwater discharge. A deglacial glaciomarine sedimentation record is preserved in the well dated ~50-kyr core MD02-2496 (48˚58.47’ N, 127˚02.14’ W, water depth 1243 m), collected off Vancouver Island. To understand the history of the relationship between the CIS, climate and meltwater discharge, high resolution, multi-proxy geochemical records from the interval that captures the Fraser Glaciation (~30-10 ka) were generated. These proxies include Mg/Ca temperatures and δ18Oseawater from planktonic foraminiferal sp. N. pachyderma and G. bulloides, elemental and organic carbon (Corg) geochemistry of bulk sediments, εNd and K/Ar dating of the <63µm fraction. A detailed reconstruction of CIS retreat has been generated based on the source of glaciomarine sediments and ice rafted debris (IRD), as well as evidence for processes such as GLOF events and iceberg discharge.
At the Fraser Glaciation initiation (~30 ka) <63µm glaciomarine sediments deposited at MD02-2496 had a ~100 Ma volcanic rock source. The CIS passed over the Vancouver Island continental shelf at Tofino at ~20 ka ~75 km from the site dramatically increasing sedimentation. From ~19 to 17.3 ka GLOFs created cyclic (~80 year) sedimentary packages of ~300 Ma (εNd of ~-8) shale associated with terrestrial Corg, and ~100 Ma (εNd of ~-3) volcanic sediment associated with marine Corg. The GLOFs were likely to be associated with glacial lake Missoula outburst flooding, occurring during the interval of the coolest ocean temperatures (2-4°C) and most depleted δ18Oseawater (-1.75‰). At 17.3 ka as ocean temperatures increased by ~3°C and δ18Oseawater increased to ~0‰, IRD deposition increased dramatically at the site, terminating abruptly at 16.2 ka. At the Bølling, ocean temperatures rose by > 3°C to 10-12°C in association with an additional IRD event at ~14.8 ka sourced from a ~75 Ma felsic volcanic source, likely the Southern Coast Plutonic Complex. At no point in the δ18Oseawater reconstruction is an obvious meltwater isotopic signature recorded despite the sedimentary evidence for both ice rafting and outburst flooding. Thus CIS meltwater likely entered the NE Pacific Ocean via hyperpycnal flow.