Insights into alpine moraine development from cosmogenic 36Cl buildup dating

Marek G. Zreda, Fred M. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


We have used cosmogenic 36Cl surface exposure dating to determine apparent construction ages of late Pleistocene moraines in the Sierra Nevada, the White Mountains, and the Wind River Range, all in the western United States. The inferred glacial chronologies from the various localities all exhibit certain characteristics: (1) Local records are fragmentary and deposits of some glacial advances are always missing; no location has deposits of all glaciations and no glacial advance is recorded at all locations. This is due either to unfavorable conditions for glacier development at some times or to obliteration of earlier deposits by later, more extensive glaciers. (2) Most moraines have young apparent exposure ages, with only a few older than the last glacial cycle. This may be due to young true ages of these deposits, erosion of moraine surfaces, or obliterative overlap and covering of older deposits by younger ones. (3) Many deposits that were previously correlated (e.g., based on their stratigraphic positions) are not correlative; they may represent different stades and, sometimes, even different glaciations. Similarly, some previously uncorrelated deposits have the same exposure ages and may be correlative. (4) Clusters of several distinct moraines of nearly the same age are present at most locations. These clusters suggest that alpine moraines are formed during short deposition episodes that last between several hundred and several thousand years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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