Emergent Marine Record and Paleoclimate of the last Interglaciation along the Northwest Alaskan Coast.

(Julie Brigham-Grette and David M. Hopkins, Quaternary Research, 1995, vol. 43, p. 159 - 173)

The last interglacial high sea-level stand, the Pelukian transgression of isotope substage 5e, is recorded along the western and northern coasts of Alaska by discontinuous but clearly traceable marine terraces and coastal landforms up to about 10 m altitude. The stratigraphy indicates that sea level reached this altitude only once during the last interglacial cycle. From the type area at Nome, to St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, to the eastern limit of the Beaufort Sea, Pelukian deposits contain extralimital faunas indicating that coastal waters were warmer than present. Amino acid ratios in molluscs from these deposits decrease to the north toward Barrow, consistent with the modern regional temperature gradient. Fossil assemblages at Nome and St. Lawrence Island suggest that the winter sea-ice limit was north of Bering Strait, at least 800 km north of its present position, and the Bering Strait was perennially ice-free. Microfauna in Pelukian sediments recovered from boreholes indicates that Atlantic water may have been present on the shallow Beaufort Shelf, suggesting that the Arctic Ocean was not stratified and the Arctic sea-ice cover was not perennial for some period. In coastal regions of western Alaska, spruce woodlands extended westward beyond their modern range and in northern Alaska, on the Arctic Coastal Plain, spruce groves may have entered the upper Colville River basin. The Flaxman Member of the Gubik Formation on the Alaskan Arctic Coastal Plain was deposited during marine isotope substage 5a and records the breakup of an intra-stage 5 ice sheet over northwestern Keewatin.

   Please click here to receive a reprint