Glacial imprints of the Okanogan Lobe, southern margin of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet

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Abstract

The glacial geomorphology of the Waterville Plateau (ca. 55 km2) provides information on the dynamics of the Okanogan Lobe, southern sector of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet in north-central Washington. The Okanogan Lobe had a profound influence on the landscape. It diverted meltwater and floodwater along the ice front contributing to the Channeled Scabland features during the late Wisconsin (Fraser Glaciation). The glacial imprint may record surge behaviour of the former Okanogan Lobe based on a comparison with other glacial landsystems. Conditions that may have promoted instability include regional topographic constraints, ice marginal lakes and dynamics of the subglacial hydrological system, which probably included a subglacial reservoir. The ice-surface morphology and estimated driving stresses (17–26 kPa) implied from ice thickness and surface slope reconstructed in the terminal area also suggest fast basal flow characteristics. This work identifies the location of a fast flowing ice corridor and this probably affected the stability and mass balance of the south-central portion of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. Evidence for fast ice flow is lacking in the main Okanogan River Valley, probably because it was destroyed during deglaciation by various glacial and fluvial processes. The only signature of fast ice flow left is the imprint on the Waterville Plateau. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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