Mid-Wisconsin Laurentide ice sheet growth and decay: Implications for Heinrich events 3 and 4


  • Matthew E. Kirby,

  • John T. Andrews


A close look at the sedimentology of Heinrich event 4 from the northwest Labrador Sea indicates that an extended ice margin, perhaps greater than before Heinrich events 1 or 2 (H-1 and H-2), existed in the Hudson Strait region pre-Heinrich event 4 (H-4) and, that on the basis of characteristics of the sediment unit, Heinrich event-4 was different than Heinrich events 1 or 2 (i.e., larger ice sheet collapse(?), longer duration(?), “dirtier” icebergs(?)). Other data from across the southern and eastern margin of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, as well as Greenland and the North Atlantic, support this interpretation, possibly indicating a relative mid-Wisconsin glacial maximum pre-Heinrich event 4. Many of these data also indicate that Heinrich event 4 (35 ka) resulted in serious climatic and oceanographic reorganizations. We suggest that Heinrich event 4 gutted the Hudson Strait, leaving it devoid of ice for Heinrich event 3. We further hypothesize that Heinrich event 3 did not originate from axial ice transport along the Hudson Strait; thus Heinrich event 3 may be more analogous to the proposed northward advancing ice from Ungava Bay during Heinrich event 0 than to the more typical down-the-strait flow during H-1, H-2, and H-4. Consequently, the climatic and oceanographic impacts resulting from Heinrich events are highly susceptible to the type, origin, and magnitude of ice sheet collapse, something which varied per Heinrich event during the last glacial period.