Analysis of geomorphic evidence for a late Wisconsinan alpine glaciation in the Adirondack High Peaks region, New York
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- Adirondack Mountains; Pleistocene; glacial erosion; hypsometry; glaciated terrain.
The Adirondack region in northern New York State has a complex Pleistocene geomorphic history. Recent debate has focused on the possible role of alpine glaciation in shaping the topography following the most recent retreat of the Wisconsinan Laurentide ice-sheet around 15,000 BP. One hypothesis posits an extensive alpine glaciation after the continental ice-sheet retreated, which shaped the current topography. A second hypothesis maintains there was no alpine glaciation after the retreat of the ice-sheet. To address the question of whether the geomorphology reflects a recent alpine glaciation, I analyzed the topography of 125 potential cirque basins. I reconstructed glacier profiles, constructed hypsometric curves and calculated the hypsometric integral for each potential cirque basin. The reconstructed glacier profiles indicate the basins that could have supported active glaciers, while the hypsometric analysis indicates the basins that could have been eroded by active glaciers. There is inconsistency between the two data sets, suggesting that any alpine glaciation that did occur was not widespread. Additionally, the inconsistencies between the sets of data and the time constraints of the glacial episode suggest that the methods may not be appropriate for this level of analysis.