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Late Pleistocene environments of the western Noatak basin, northwestern Alaska

Geological Society of America Bulletin

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Abstract

Glacial Lake Noatak formed repeatedly during middle and late Pleistocene time as expanding glaciers from the DeLong Mountains blocked the Noatak River valley. Downcutting by the Noatak River has exposed thick sediment successions in bluffs up to 86 m high. Two river bluffs, Nk-26 and Nk-29A, contain correlative organic-rich flood-plain deposits that were formed during and after deposition of the Old Crow tephra at about the transition between oxygen isotope stage 6 and oxygen isotope stage 5, at the beginning of the last interglaciation. Both bluffs also contain older interglacial or interstadial flood-plain deposits of uncertain age. Pollen and beetle remains were recovered from the older and younger flood-plain deposits at each bluff. Pollen from the younger flood-plain deposits suggests tundra vegetation with local dominance of sedge. Juniperus abundances were locally high, especially around the time of Old Crow tephra deposition. Mutual climatic range (MCR) estimates from the insect fossil assemblages suggest that mean summer temperatures (Tmax) near the time of Old Crow tephra deposition were about 2 ??C colder than modern; mean winter temperatures were very similar to those of today. A younger sample from the same interglacial deposit yielded a Tmax estimate of 2 ??C warmer than modern, signaling interglacial warming. Pollen from the older interglacial deposit at Nk-29A suggests mesic tundra, with boreal forest more distant than it is today. MCR analysis of a possibly correlative older interglacial deposit at Nk-26 suggests a Tmax about 2 ??C below present.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Late Pleistocene environments of the western Noatak basin, northwestern Alaska
Series title:
Geological Society of America Bulletin
Volume
111
Issue:
5
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
769
Last page:
789
Number of Pages:
21