The volume and paleobathymetry of glacial Lake Agassiz

Jason D. Mann, David W. Leverington, John Rayburn, James T. Teller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


During the last retreat of the Laurentide Ice Sheet in North America, many proglacial lakes formed as continental drainage was impounded against the southern and western ice margin. Lake Agassiz was the largest of these lakes. The bathymetry of Lake Agassiz at the Herman and Upper Campbell beach levels - formed at about 11.5-11.0 ka and 9.9-9.5 ka, respectively - was computer modelled in this study by first collecting data for the isostaticallydeformed paleowater planes of the two lake levels (derived from isobase lines constructed from beach elevations), and then subtracting these from the modern topography of the former lake floor. Pixels with dimensions of 1/30 X 1/30 of a degree were used in the model. Using these data, the area and volume of the lake were also calculated: at the Herman level these were ~152 500 km2 and ~13 100 km3 respectively; at the Upper Campbell level these were ~350 400 km2 and ~38 700 km3. Contour maps showing the paleobathymetry of both periods in the lake's history were also constructed. Determining the paleobathymetry and volume of Lake Agassiz is an important step in understanding the impact that the lake had on its surrounding environment and on the rivers, lakes, and oceans into which it flowed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-80
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1999


  • Area
  • Computer model
  • Lake Agassiz
  • Paleobathymetry
  • Volume


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