Drumlin formation: a time transgressive model

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Graphical and numerical reconstructions of the Rainy and Superior lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet suggest that drumlin formation was time transgressive. Suites of glacial landforms including drumlins, tunnel valleys, eskers, and ice‐collapse features can be correlated with specific recessional ice margins and are used as boundary conditions in the modeling. A contour map of the ice surface is then drawn using a specified basal shear stress. The shear stress can be constant or allowed to vary with position on the bed and is chosen to be consistent with the subglacial regime indicated by field evidence. Assuming that ice flow is parallel to drumlin orientations and perpendicular to the ice surface contours and moraines, the trend of drumlin axes is best accommodated by time transgressive drumlin formation during minor stillstands in the overall ice recession. The alternative, that drumlins were formed while the ice was at the Late Wisconsin maximum limit, requires large spatial variations in the basal shear stress distribution and therefore implies large mass‐balance gradients or large variations in basal sliding velocities over small distances, for which there is little evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-107
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1989

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