EAS 554
Circumpolar Quaternary Environments: January 2005

Objectives: This course is designed to provide a multidisciplinary overview of environmental change at high latitudes, extending from the Tertiary to present, with an emphasis on Arctic Canada. The key objectives are: 1) to familiarize you with a cross-section of readings that reflect the development of thought and methodologies pertaining to high latitude environmental changes; and 2) to encourage critical thinking in regard to that literature.

Course Structure: The course will primarily involve selected readings that will be used as the basis for class discussions. It is recognized that each student will bring different strengths and interests to the course, diversifying insights and questions arising from assigned readings and seminars. Twice during the term, each student will make a presentation (see assignments below).

Assignment # 1. During weeks February 7-11 and February 14-18. Present and critically evaluate two related, full journal papers on a topic dealing with a specific aspect of the Laurentide Ice Sheet that elaborates on the overview of Dyke et al. 1987, 2002 (discussed up until this date). Please confirm this topic ahead of time with me, and try to avoid focussing on your own geographic field area or current thesis research as I want you to branch out. Provide the class with a two page summary to accompany the class presentation (~20 minutes). Please sign up with me for either week (~ 5 presenters per class, first come, first served).

Assignment # 2. During the weeks March 28-April 1 and April 4-8, each student will present a seminar based on a ~10-15 page paper (typed, double-spaced). The paper is to be submitted at that time. Topics for each seminar/paper are flexible so that they can suitably complement the development of the course itself, as well as the interests and backgrounds of each student. The only requirement is that you clear your selected topics with me well beforehand. The basic format of your paper should follow that of the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. Please sign up with me for either week (~ 5 presenters per class, first come, first served).


Grading:
Class participation - 30%
Assignment # 1 - 30%
Assignment # 2 - 40%

Please note: There is no scheduled final examination. Instead, an equivalent grade will be assigned to class participation (30%) that will be used to ascertain your level of comprehension as well as its development during the term. Hence it is essential that you ask questions and contribute perspectives so that I can gauge your understanding vis a vis course content.

Readings: All assigned readings should be available from Cameron Library. Some of these I can also make available for Xeroxing. We will start with Dyke and Prest (1987): “Late Wisconsinan and Holocene history of the Laurentide Ice Sheet”, Géographie physique et Quaternaire, 41, 237-263, which is accompanied by a series of paleogeographic maps spanning 18 to ~7 ka BP. This paper is a good starting point for considering a wide spectrum of geological evidence, methodologies, as well as theoretical and paleoclimatic issues used to reconstruct the LIS. This paper has been updated by Dyke et al. 2002, “The Laurentide and Innuitian ice sheets during the Last Glacial Maximum”, Quaternary Science Reviews 21, 9-31, which forms part of the EPILOG Project (Environmental Processes of the Last Ice Age: Land, Oceans, Glaciers). Dyke et al. 2002 will be discussed in week 2 or 3, helping to clarify the development of recent research. After these two regional papers, we will look at specific areas or new topics (see below). Note: during the term we will be hosting the 35th International Arctic Workshop, March 9-13, 2005, and this will provide an exceptional opportunity to expand your interest. See: https://arcticworkshop.onware.ca for details.

Suggested Topics (to be adapted to class interests):

• Tertiary evolution of the Arctic Ocean Basin and adjacent landmasses.

• High latitude ice sheets: current reconstructions re. chronology, configuration & dynamics: Note that this topic also will include a review of glacioisostasy and eustasy which are widely used in the geological reconstruction of these ice masses as well as in geophysical modelling. This part of the course will review the widespread literature pertaining to:

- The Laurentide Ice Sheet (LIS)
- The Innuitian Ice Sheet (IIS)
- The Cordilleran Ice Sheet/Brooks Range
- The Barents Ice Sheet (BIS)
- The Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS)
- The Eurasian Ice Sheets

• Paleoceanographic records of the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic (ice-rafted detrital records, Heinrich events, and recent evidence for deep-erosion within the Arctic Ocean Basin).

• Nonglacial landscapes: Beringia (NW Russia to Banks Island?).

• New perspectives on the role of proglacial lakes during deglaciation: North America & N. Russia etc.

• Late glacial and Holocene environmental changes (marine isotope stages 2 & 1). This will include abrupt changes such as the Younger Dryas geochron and Cockburn Substage followed by postglacial changes recorded for example by changes in ocean currents/sea ice trajectories, marine fauna, ice cores and lake sediments).

• Antarctica during the late Quaternary, developing this as a brief contrast to the Northern Hemisphere record (the second set of seminars could usefully develop this theme).