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The potential lateral growth of lithalsas

  • Albert Pissart (a1), Fabrice Calmels (a2) and Cécile Wastiaux (a1)

The lithalsas in the Hudson Bay region of northern Québec, Canada, are the closest modern analogs of ancient features that collapsed to form conspicuous circular depressions (“viviers”) common in the Hautes-Fagnes, a region in Belgium. Observations made in both regions are complementary and suggest that these mounds formed by frost heaving displacing soil not only upward, as previously assumed, but also laterally. This lateral displacement is consistent with diverse observations and inferences, which include (1) the simple rounded outline, either circular or oval, typical of both active and relic lithalsas; (2) evidence of local lateral extension inferred from exposures of the relic forms; (3) the relative inefficiency of solifluction in accumulating surface material to form the peripheral ramparts of remnant lithalsas due to the very gentle slopes of the mounds; and (4) the dip of ice lenses within a lithalsa in the Hudson Bay region, perhaps indicating that the freezing front dipped outward along its periphery. The growth of segregation ice is the primary driver for the vertical growth and lateral enlargement of a lithalsa.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author at: 29, rue Lavaux, 4130 Esneux, Belgium.
E-mail address: (A. Pissart), (F. Calmels).
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Quaternary Research
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