Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-m9kch Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-28T20:34:05.526Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Late Wisconsinan Glaciation of the Central Sector of the Canadian High Arctic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Scott F. Lamoureux
Department of Geography, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, K7L 3N6
John H. England
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6E 2E3


Geomorphic and chronological evidence from Cornwall Island in the Canadian High Arctic Archipelago provides direct evidence for the age and dynamics of the center and northern flank of the Innuitian Ice Sheet that covered the islands during the Late Wisconsonian glacial maximum. Dispersal of erratics and glacial landforms indicate that ice flowed north across the island and converged with ice flowing northwest from Norwegian Bay. Cornwall Island was initially deglaciated at 9000 14C yr B.P. in near synchrony with widely separated sites in adjacent parts of the archipelago. This regional chronology suggests rapid breakup of a marine-based Innuitian Ice Sheet that was destabilized by rapid eustatic sea-level rise and ice thinning during the early Holocene. This evidence provides strong support for a recently proposed ice divide spanning the central part of the Canadian High Arctic and indicates that most, if not all, of the region was glaciated during the Late Wisconsinan.

Research Article
University of Washington

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Balkwill, H. R. (1983). Geology of Amund Ringnes, Cornwall, and Haig-Thomas Islands, District of Franklin, Memoir 390. Geological Survey of Canada.Google Scholar
Balkwill, H.R., Roy, K.J., Hopkins, W.S., Sliter, W.V.(1974). Glacial features and pingos, Amund Ringnes Island, Arctic Archipelago. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 11, 13191325.Google Scholar
Bednarski, J.M.. Surficial geology and sea level history of Bathurst Island, Northwest Territories. (1996). Current Research. p. 6166.Google Scholar
Bischof, J.F., Darby, D.A.(1999). Quaternary ice transport in the Canadian Arctic and extent of Late Wisconsinan Glaciation in the Queen Elizabeth Islands. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 36, 20072022.Google Scholar
Blake, W. Jr.(1970). Studies of glacial history in Arctic Canada. I. Pumice, radiocarbon dates, and differential postglacial uplift in the eastern Queen Elizabeth Islands. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 7, 634664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blake, W. Jr.. Climatic implications of radiocarbon-dated driftwood in the Queen Elizabeth Islands, arctic Canada. Vasari, Y., Hyvärinen, H., Hicks, S.(1972). Climatic Changes in Arctic Areas during the Last Ten-Thousand Years. 77104.Google Scholar
Blake, W. Jr.(1992). Holocene emergence at Cape Herschel, east-central Ellesmere Island, Arctic Canada: Implications for ice sheet configuration. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 29, 19581980.Google Scholar
Dyke, A.S. (1993). Landscapes of cold-centred Late Wisconsinan ice caps, Arctic Canada. Progress in Physical Geography, 17, 223247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dyke, A.S. (1998). Holocene delevelling of Devon Island, Arctic Canada: Implications for ice sheet geometry and crustal response. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 35, 885904.Google Scholar
Dyke, A.S. (1999). Last Glacial Maximum and deglaciation of Devon Island, arctic Canada: Support for an Innuitian Ice Sheet. Quaternary Science Reviews, 18, 393420.Google Scholar
England, J. (1976). Late Quaternary glaciation of the eastern Queen Elizabeth Islands, N.W.T., Canada: Alternative models. Quaternary Research, 6, 185202.Google Scholar
England, J. (1992). Postglacial emergence in the Canadian High Arctic: Integrating glacioisostasy, eustasy, and late deglaciation. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 29, 984999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
England, J. (1996). Glacier dynamics and paleoclimatic change during the last glaciation of eastern Ellesmere Island, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 33, 779799.Google Scholar
England, J. (1998). Support for the Innuitian Ice Sheet in the Canadian High Arctic during the Last Glacial Maximum. Journal of Quaternary Science, 13, 275280.Google Scholar
England, J. H. (1998b). Consensus on the Innuitian Ice Sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum: New Evidence and Opportunity. GSA Meeting abstracts,Toronto.,p, A-51.Google Scholar
England, J. (1999). Coalescent Greenland and Innuitian ice during the last glacial maximum: Revising the Quaternary of the Canadian High Arctic. Quaternary Science Reviews, 18, 421456.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fairbanks, R.G. (1989). A 17,000-year glacio-eustatic sea level record: Influence of glacial melting rates on the Younger Dryas event and deep-ocean circulation. Nature, 342, 637642.Google Scholar
Hodgson, D. A..(1981). Surficial geology, Lougheed Island, northwest Arctic Archipelago. InCurrent Research. pp. 2734.Geological Survey of Canada, 81-1C., Google Scholar
Hodgson, D. A. (1982). Surficial Materials and Geomorphological Processes, Western Sverdrup and Adjacent Islands, District of Franklin. Geological Survey of Canada,Paper 81-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hodgson, D.A. (1985). The last glaciation of west-central Ellesmere Island, Arctic Archipelago, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 22, 347368.Google Scholar
Lamoureux, S.F. (1999). Catchment and lake controls over the formation of varves in monomictic Nicolay Lake, Cornwall Island, Nunavut. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 36, 15331546.Google Scholar
Lemmen, D.S., Aitken, A.E., Gilbert, R.(1994). Early Holocene deglaciation of Expedition and Strand fiords, Canadian High Arctic. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 31, 943958.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McNeely, R. (1989). Geological Survey of Canada Radiocarbon Dates XXVIII. Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 88-7.Google Scholar
McNeely, R. McCuaig, S.(1991). Geological Survey of Canada Radiocarbon Dates XXIX. Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 89-7.Google Scholar
O'Cofaigh, C. (1999a). Late Quaternary glaciation and postglacial emergence, South Eureka Sound, High Arctic Canada. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Alberta, Edmonton.Google Scholar
O'Cofaigh, C. (1999). Holocene emergence and shoreline delevelling, southern Eureka Sound, High Arctic Canada. Geographie Physique et Quaternaire, 53, 235247.Google Scholar
St.-Onge, D. A. (1965). La géomorphologie de l'Ile Ellef Ringnes, Territories du Nord-Ouest, Canada. Geographical Branch Canada Paper 38,46, p.Google Scholar
Zreda, M., England, J., Phillips, F., Elmore, D., Sharma, P.(1999). Unblocking of the Nares Strait by Greenland and Ellesmere ice-sheet retreat 10,000 years ago. Nature, 398, 139142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar