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Quaternary geology and geomorphology of the Dinosaur Provincial Park area and surrounding plains, Alberta, Canada; the identification of former glacial lobes, drainage diversions and meltwater flood tracks

Quaternary geology and geomorphology of the Dinosaur Provincial Park area and surrounding plains, Alberta, Canada; the identification of former glacial lobes, drainage diversions and meltwater flood tracks

Quaternary Science Reviews 19(10): 0-958

DOI: 10.1016/s0277-3791(99)00029-3

The Quaternary geology and geomorphology of the lower Red Deer River drainage basin, centred on the Dinosaur Provincial Park badlands, provides information on pre-Late Wisconsinan drainage patterns and the dynamics of former lobes of the Laurentide Ice Sheet in western Canada. Patterns of deglaciation, proglacial lake evolution and spillway incision are also reconstructed based upon the distribution of surface materials and glacial/glaciofluvial landforms. The Empress Group fluvial and glaciolacustrine sediments, which could be as young as 27 ka BP, infill the precursor Red Deer River and its tributaries and document the initial advance of glacier ice into southern Alberta. Glaciotectonic disturbance of older sediments and bedrock, the production of deformation tills and the construction of a megafluting complex and cupola hills record the advances of a glacier lobe centred over the study area. Stratified inter- and intra-till beds record pulses of subglacial meltwater between phases of subsole deformation. The thickening of tills towards the margin of the lobe represents a till wedge, an expected product of sediment advection by glaciers moving over deformable beds. The eastern margin of the glacier lobe is demarcated by the interlobate Suffield hummocky moraine belt which contains overprinted thrust ridges, which record diachronous oscillations of neighbouring lobes within the ice sheet. Proglacial and glaciofluvial sediments were deposited in the area in association with proglacial Lake Bassano/Patricia, which drained eastwards when the Suffield moraine was dissected by spillways. Changes in the size of glacial lake Bassano/Patricia are clearly documented by a sequence of spillway incisions which culminated in the erosion of scabland topography and the initiation of a new course for the Red Deer River, a 15 km southward diversion of the main channel. In distinct contrast to the documented incision histories of other small rivers in Alberta, One Tree Creek and Little Sandhill Creek did not start major incisions of the Quaternary sediments over buried valley positions until the late-Holocene when environmental conditions were characterized by higher precipitation.

Accession: 019831385

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