Varve formation during the past three centuries in three large proglacial lakes in south-central Alaska

Evelien Boes, Maarten Van Daele, Jasper Moernaut, Sabine Schmidt, Britta J.L. Jensen, Nore Praet, Darrell Kaufman, Peter Haeussler, Michael G. Loso, Marc De Batist

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23 Scopus citations


The sediments stored in the large, deep proglacial lakes of south-central Alaska are largely unstudied. We analyzed sediments in 20 cores, up to 160 cm long, from Eklutna, Kenai, and Skilak Lakes, using a combination of repeated lamination counting, radionuclide dating, event stratigraphy, and tephrochronology. We show that the characteristically rhythmic layers were deposited annually. Most of these glacial varves consist of one coarse-grained base and a fine-grained top, but varves composed of multiple coarsegrained turbidite pulses are common too. They are likely related to successive episodes of high sediment discharge during flooding, and they become more frequent in all three lakes, along with increased sedimentation rates, during the nineteenth century late phase of the Little Ice Age. These flood turbidites were generated by rain events and intense melting of snow and ice. Other (mega) turbidites are a result of earthquake-triggered slope collapses (e.g., A.D. 1964). Some event layers are present in all three lakes. In addition, the annual time series of varve thickness (normalized annual sedimentation rate) are significantly correlated among the three lakes (ρ > 0.27; p < 0.001). Differences between the varve thickness records can be attributed partly to the dam construction at Eklutna Lake and outbursts from an icedammed lake at Skilak Lake. Geomorphologic differences among the catchments result in further differences in sedimentation patterns in the three lakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-774
Number of pages18
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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