Combining geomorphological and geodetic data to determine postglacial tilting in Manitoba*

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Abstract

Estimates of postglacial rebound in central North America from Laurentide deglaciation to the present time are uncertain as a result of lack of data from the continental interior. A more precise knowledge of postglacial tilt history will assist studies of the evolution of the major lakes in Manitoba and will facilitate the engineering and environmental management of the present-day hydrological system. This paper explores the benefits of combining geomorphological data with high-precision, real-time geodetic data (GPS positioning and absolute gravity) and lake-gauge tilt data now being collected for postglacial rebound studies in Manitoba and adjacent regions in the US. Presently-available data sets representing these data types are (1) tilting of the 9.5 kyr B.P. Campbell strand line south and west of Lake Winnipeg, (2) the rate of decrease in absolute gravity values measured from 1987 to 1995 at Churchill, Manitoba, and (3) the present-day regional tilt rate derived from water-level gauges in southern Manitoba lakes. These data are compared to theoretical predictions based on the published ICE-3G loading history and on a model of Earth rheology characterized by a 1066B density and elastic structure, an upper-mantle viscosity of 1021 Pa s, a lower-mantle viscosity of 2 × 1021 Pa s, and a lithosphere thickness of 120 km (Tushingham & Peltier, 1991). All three data types show disagreement in Manitoba with ICE-3G and the ‘standard’ Earth model. ICE-4G does better but could not be investigated in any detail. The constraints on model parameters provided by the different data types were investigated by varying, one at a time, three key parameters, (1) the thickness of the lithosphere in excess of 120 km, (2) the lower mantle viscosity, and (3) the thickness of Laurentide ice over the Prairies, to obtain better fits to the data. The present data do not appear to constrain lithosphere thickness in excess of 120 km very well. While both the Campbell strand line data and the Churchill absolute gravity data are consistent with an increase in lower-mantle viscosity, the present-day, lake-gauge data are not. All three data types are consistent with a thinning of the Laurentide ice-sheet over the Prairies relative to the ICE-3G model. Simultaneous adjustment of model parameters with the advantage of anticipated new data in Manitoba and adjacent regions in the US will lead to better understanding of the trade-offs between Earth rheology and ice sheet history and hence to an improved Laurentide postglacial rebound model.

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