10 Be chronology of late Pleistocene and holocene glaciation of the Alapah Mountain and Arrigetch Peaks Areas, Central Brooks Range, Alaska
Pendleton, Simon L.
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The amplification of climate change in the Arctic is due to several cyrosphere related feedback mechanisms, making it one of the most climate sensitive environments in the world. Due to this sensitivity, glaciers in this region are excellent recorders of past climate fluctuations. This high-resolution chronology left on the land by these glaciers is an important link in deciphering the dynamic relationship between glaciers and climate, leading to a better understanding of the extent and magnitude of past Arctic climate variability. Here we present new 10 Be based glacier chronologies from the late Pleistocene through the Little Ice Age (LIA) for two valleys located in the north- and south-central Brooks range, Alaska. Moraine boulders from the Alapah Mountain moraines on the northern flank of the range indicate that the Itkillik III glaciation culminated by ~17 ka. This age is much older than previous estimates (~15-13 ka) and suggests a revision of the original late Pleistocene glacial chronology. This new Itkillik chronology requires substantial glacial retreat between ~27-23 ka, at the height of the northern hemisphere last glacial maximum (LGM). Due to their moisture sensitivity, expanded Arctic sea ice may have starved glaciers of precipitation during this time. Erratic boulders and scoured bedrock from several valleys in both the northern and southern Brooks Range show that deglaciation was underway by ~16 ka and glaciers retreated rapidly up valley to their Neoglacial limits, in some case by 14.9 ± 0.8 ka. Sampled boulders from two Neoglacial moraines show that glaciers reached their maximum Holocene extent by 3.2 ± 0.3 ka. In conjunction, these ages show that glaciers remained at or behind their Holocene maximum from ~14-3 ka. This means that Late Glacial (14-11 ka) or early to middle Holocene advances were either absent or less extensive than their Holocene maximum.