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Origin of a washboard moraine of the Des Moines Lobe inferred from sediment properties

Abstract : Geometric characteristics of the washboard moraines of the Des Moines Lobe (DML) of the Laurentide ice sheet agree with their proposed origin as crevasse-squeeze ridges, but study of their sediments is required to help further test this hypothesis. A 70-m-long, 3-5 m high section through a moraine ridge in central Iowa revealed till with irregular, isolated lenses of silt, sand, and gravel that dip to varying extents upglacier. The texture and density of the till are like those of the basal till of the DML studied elsewhere in Iowa, and preconsolidation pressures determined from tests on till and silt of the ridge indicate that it developed subglacially rather than at the glacier margin. Preconsolidation pressures additionally demonstrate that pore-water pressures in the bed supported most of the glacier's weight, which would have contributed to till mobility. Fabrics based on the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility of 3125 intact till specimens collected at 125 locations in the section indicate two end-member states of strain that varied with location in the ridge and caused sediment mounding: simple shear that was directed downglacier along shear planes inclined upglacier, together with pure shear where an overlying crevasse allowed the sediment bed to extend upward and laterally. Meltwater that likely flowed along the crevasse deposited sorted sediments that were incorporated in till, deformed, and rotated. This positive test of the crevasse-squeeze hypothesis indicates that the DML was in longitudinal extension near its margin, reinforcing previous arguments that the lobe surged. The predominance of fabrics caused by simple shear demonstrates that crevasse filling was underway before the surge had fully halted. This study should prompt caution in using similar transverse ridges, such as those geophysically imaged in some submarine glacier forefields, as indicators of retreat rates.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 18, 2022 - 9:29:37 AM
Last modification on : Sunday, February 20, 2022 - 3:32:44 AM

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Suzanne Ankerstjerne, Neal R. Iverson, France Lagroix. Origin of a washboard moraine of the Des Moines Lobe inferred from sediment properties. Geomorphology, 2015, 248, pp.452-463. ⟨10.1016/j.geomorph.2015.07.019⟩. ⟨insu-03579364⟩

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