Paleotopographic reconstructions of the eastern outlets of glacial Lake Agassiz

David W. Leverington, James T. Teller

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Paleotopographic reconstructions of the eastern outlets of glacial Lake Agassiz provide a foundation for understanding the complex manner in which terrain morphology controlled the routing of overflow through the eastern outlets during the lake's Nipigon Phase (ca. 9400-8000 14C years BP) and for understanding the causes of outlet-driven declines in lake level during that period. Although flow paths across the divide between the Agassiz and Nipigon basins were numerous, eastward releases from Lake Agassiz to glacial Lake Kelvin (modern Lake Nipigon) were channeled downslope into a relatively small number of major channels that included the valleys of modern Kopka River, Ottertooth Creek, Vale Creek, Whitesand River, Pikitigushi River, and Little Jackfish River. From Lake Kelvin, these waters overflowed into the Superior basin. The numerous lowerings in lake level between stages of the Nipigon Phase, controlled by topography and the position of the retreating southern margin of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, had magnitudes of between 8 and 58 m, although some of these drawdowns may have occurred as multiple individual events that could have been as small as several metres. The total volumes of water released in association with these drops were as great as 8100 km3, and for all Nipigon stages were probably between about 140 and 250 km3 per metre of lowering. The topographic reconstructions demonstrate that Lake Agassiz occupied the area of glacial Lake Nakina (located northeast of modern Lake Nipigon) by the The Pas stage (ca. 8000 14C years BP) and that Lake Agassiz drainage through the Nipigon basin to the Great Lakes ended before the succeeding Gimli stage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1259-1278
Number of pages20
JournalCanadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2003


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