EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Ice stream dynamics and ice margin retreat of the last Laurentide Ice Sheet in the Northwest Territories, Canada

Helen E. Dulfer1, Benjamin J. Stoker1, Martin Margold1, Chris R. Stokes2, Chris D. Clark3, Colm Ó Cofaigh2, and David J.A. Evans2
Helen E. Dulfer et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 2Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom
  • 3Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom

The Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS) was the largest of the ephemeral Pleistocene ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere, with a Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) ice volume similar to the modern Antarctic ice sheet. A recent inventory of paleo-ice streams across the LIS shows many similarities with present-day ice streaming in Antarctica, where ice streams account for approx. 90% of mass loss. However, in the Mackenzie Lowlands of the Northwest Territories, Canada, the paleo-ice stream record is enigmatic. Previous work has identified a number of large paleo-ice streams, including the Mackenzie Trough, Anderson, Bear Lake and Fort Simpson ice streams, however, their extent, configuration, temporal relationship to each other and spatial evolution over time remains poorly constrained. Consequently, their impact on the rate and style of deglaciation of the northwestern sector of the LIS is poorly understood.

Here we utilise the newly available high resolution Arctic DEM (0.5 m resolution) to re-map glacial landforms across the Mackenzie Lowlands in greater detail (area >800,000 km2). We then use this landform record to reconstruct the ice dynamics in this region following the well-established approaches of flowset mapping and the glacial inversion method. The high resolution data allow us to present a detailed reconstruction of LGM ice flow over the Mackenzie Lowlands and resolve the configuration and evolution of ice streams over time. The landform record suggests that the ice streams operated time-transgressively during deglaciation, switching on and off at different times. While ice contact landforms, such as moraines, lateral and submarginal meltwater channels and ice-contact deltas, show the overall retreat of the LIS towards the Keewatin Dome in the east, in several regions the ice retreat record is complex, suggesting interlobate ice configurations with multiple ice retreat directions.

How to cite: Dulfer, H. E., Stoker, B. J., Margold, M., Stokes, C. R., Clark, C. D., Ó Cofaigh, C., and Evans, D. J. A.: Ice stream dynamics and ice margin retreat of the last Laurentide Ice Sheet in the Northwest Territories, Canada, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4737,, 2022.