Transient impacts of Little Ice Age glacier expansion on sedimentation processes at glacier-dammed Iceberg Lake, southcentral Alaska

Katie E. Diedrich, Michael Gregg Loso

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7 Scopus citations


Iceberg Lake, a glacier-dammed proglacial lake in southern Alaska, contains a 1,500+ year varve record complicated by a history of episodic lake-level changes associated with fluctuations in ice-dam thickness and position. To better understand the basinwide glaciolacustrine response to late Holocene climate variability, we collected five cores from two areas in the lake, including a previously unexamined deepwater area distal from inlet streams. Based on eight AMS 14C dates, and correlations among our cores and previously documented outcrops, we describe ~1,000 years of stratigraphy from each area. Deposition at both areas was dominated by fine-grained varves, but cores from the distal area uniquely contain coarser deposits, including rhythmites and graded sand beds, that we attribute to deposition of a subaqueous outwash fan-delta between ~1250 and 1650 AD. We attribute this event to thickening of the impounding glacier and consequent incursion of the glacier margin, and an associated lateral moraine, into the lake. This result suggests an early onset of the Little Ice Age (LIA) glacial advance in this region. Changes in basinwide circulation and sedimentation associated with this event probably caused minor thickening of varves used previously to reconstruct summer temperatures, reducing sensitivity of that record to early LIA cooling. The basinwide impact of this event illustrates the potentially significant spatial and temporal variability of lacustrine sedimentary processes in dynamic glacial landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-132
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation through the Arctic System Science 8 ka Project (Grant #0909322). Coring equipment, lab facilities, and archival storage was provided by the National Lacustrine Core Facility and by Zicheng Yu. We thank Kristi Wallace of the USGS/Alaska Tephra Laboratory and Data Center, Christie Haupert of Polar Field Services, Wrangell Mountain Air, Temsco Helicopters, and the Wrangell Mountains Center for lab and logistical support. Thank you to all the helpful field assistants that ventured to the lake for two weeks including John Sykes, Laurie Trifone, Ann Marie Larquier, and Tyler Boyes. Darrell Kaufman, Roman Dial, and three anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript.

Copyright 2012 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Alaska
  • Glacial sediments
  • Holocene paleoclimate
  • Hydroclimatic proxy
  • Little Ice Age
  • Varves

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