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New evidence from the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago for the resubmergence of Bering Strait

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Abstract (summary)

Widespread molluscan samples were collected from raised marine sediments to date the last retreat of the NW Laurentide Ice Sheet from the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago. At the head of Mercy Bay, northern Banks Island, deglacial mud at the modern coast contains Hiatella arctica and Portlandia arctica bivalves, as well as Cyrtodaria kurriana, previously unreported for this area. Multiple H. arctica and C. kurriana valves from this site yield a mean age of 11.5 14C ka BP (with 740 yr marine reservoir correction). The occurrence of C. kurriana, a low Arctic taxon, raises questions concerning its origin, because evidence is currently lacking for a molluscan refugium in the Arctic Ocean during the last glacial maximum. Elsewhere, the oldest late glacial age available on C. kurriana comes from the Laptev Sea where it is < 10.3 14C ka BP and attributed to a North Atlantic source. This is 2000 cal yr younger than the Mercy Bay samples reported here, making the Laptev Sea, ~ 3000 km to the west, an unlikely source. An alternate route from the North Atlantic into the Canadian Arctic Archipelago was precluded by coalescent Laurentide, Innuitian and Greenland ice east of Banks Island until ~ 10 14C ka BP. We conclude that the presence of C. kurriana on northern Banks Island records migration from the North Pacific. This requires the resubmergence of Bering Strait by 11.5 14C ka BP, extending previous age determinations on the reconnection of the Pacific and Arctic oceans by up to 1000 yr. This renewed ingress of Pacific water likely played an important role in re-establishing Arctic Ocean surface currents, including the evacuation of thick multi-year sea ice into the North Atlantic prior to the Younger Dryas geochron.

Publication Information

England, J., & Furze, M. (2008). New evidence from the western Canadian Arctic Archipelago for the resubmergence of Bering Strait. Quaternary Research, 70(1), 60-67. doi:10.1016/j.yqres.2008.03.001


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