Application of single-grain OSL dating to ice-proximal deposits, glacial Lake Benson, west-central Minnesota, USA

Tammy M. Rittenour, James F.P. Cotter, Heather E. Arends

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6 Scopus citations


Glacial Lake Benson formed in west-central Minnesota as the Des Moines lobe of the Laurentide ice sheet retreated north of a small moraine in the Minnesota River lowland. Although previous research has constrained the timing of glacial Lake Agassiz immediately to the north, little age control is available for the formation of glacial Lake Benson and ice-marginal positions to the south. In order to constrain the age of glacial Lake Benson and test the application of single-grain optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating to ice-marginal deposits, seven OSL samples were collected from a variety of depositional settings. These included deltaic deposits linked to specific lake levels, pro-glacial fluvial, ice-contact and supra-glacial deposits. Single-grain OSL results indicate evidence for incomplete resetting (partial bleaching) of the luminescence signal, as expected for glacial environments, and therefore ages were calculated using a minimum age model. OSL results constrain the timing of ice-margin retreat and lake formation to 14.4-14.8 ka. Analysis of single-grain equivalent dose distributions indicates that deposits created by glacial-dominated processes typically had higher over-dispersion (>50%) and greater positive skew (>0.9) than deposits originating from fluvial processes. These results suggest that water-lain deposits should be targeted for OSL sampling over those created by glacial processes when dating ice-proximal settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-313
Number of pages8
JournalQuaternary Geochronology
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation REU Program awarded to J.F.P. Cotter ( NSF EAR 0353621 , NSF EAR 0640575 and NSF EAR 9100630 ) and the Utah State University Luminescence Lab. We thank an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on this manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Des Moines lobe
  • Glacial Lake Benson
  • Partial bleaching
  • Single-grain OSL


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