Seafloor evidence for ice shelf flow across the Alaska-Beaufort margin of the Arctic Ocean

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Abstract

New imagery of ∽14 100 km2 of seafloor along a 640 km stretch of the Alaska and Beaufort margins (ABM) in water depths from 250 to 2800 m depicts a repetitive association of glaciogenic bedforms (lineations and iceberg scours), broad erosional bathymetric features and adjacent downslope turbidite gullies. These bedforms have styles, depths and orientations similar to features discovered earlier on the Chukchi Borderland, up to 800 km northwest of the ABM. Lineations occur across the surface of a flattened bathymetric bench interpreted to have formed by an ice shelf sliding along the continental slope and scraping the seafloor at temporary grounding locations. The glacial geology of surrounding areas suggests that an ice shelf probably flowed from the mouths of overdeepened glacial troughs in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago westward along the ABM and across the Chukchi Borderland. This curved pathway indicates an obstruction to ice flow in the central Canada Basin, possibly caused by either a basin-wide ice shelf or by a pile-up of mega-bergs originating from the Eurasian side of the Arctic Ocean. The ice shelf that affected the ABM may have formed between Oxygen Isotopic Stage 4 to 5b, possibly correlating to an inferred intra-Stage 5 widespread Beringian glaciation. Evidence for glaciogenic features on the ABM corroborates suggestions that large ice volumes and extents existed in the Arctic during Pleistocene glacial periods. These findings have far-reaching implications for Arctic climate studies, ocean circulation, sediment stratigraphy and the stability of circum-Arctic continental ice masses. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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