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Holocene geologic and climatic history around the Gulf of Alaska

Arctic Anthropology

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Abstract

Though not as dramatic as during the last Ice Age, pronounced climatic changes occurred in the northeastern Pacific over the last 10,000 years. Summers warmer and drier than today's accompanied a Hypsithermal interval between 9 and 6 ka. Subsequent Neoglaciation was marked by glacier expansion after 5-6 ka and the assembly of modern-type plant communities by 3-4 ka. The Neoglacial interval contained alternating cold and warm intervals, each lasting several hundred years to one millennium, and including both the Medieval Warm Period (ca. AD 900-1350) and the Little Ice Age (ca. AD 1350-1900). Salmon abundance fluctuated during the Little Ice Age in response to local glaciation and probably also to changes in the intensity of the Aleutian Low. Although poorly understood at present, climate fluctuations at all time scales were intimately connected with oceanographic changes in the North Pacific Ocean. The Gulf of Alaska region is tectonically highly active, resulting in a history of frequent geological catastrophes during the Holocene. Twelve to 14 major volcanic eruptions occurred since 12 ka. At intervals of 20-100 years, large earthquakes have raised and lowered sea level instantaneously by meters and generated destructive tsunamis. Sea level has often varied markedly between sites only 50-100 km apart due to tectonism and the isostatic effects of glacier fluctuations.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Holocene geologic and climatic history around the Gulf of Alaska
Series title:
Arctic Anthropology
Volume
35
Issue:
1
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Arctic Anthropology
First page:
112
Last page:
131
Number of Pages:
20