Constraints of the origin of the middle Pleistocene transition from the glacial sedimentary record of the north-central United States Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/0k225d28p

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  • This dissertation focuses on the role of ice sheets in the transition during the middle Pleistocene (-1.2 Ma) from 41-kyr glacial cycles to 100-kyr glacial cycles. This research evaluates the hypothesis that the middle Pleistocene transition (MPT) was related to the glacial erosion of a regolith mantle and the subsequent exposure of fresh crystalline bedrock. This issue is addressed through the study of glacial sedimentary sequences in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. Testing the hypothesis first required the establishment of a stratigraphic framework for pre-Illinoian glacial sequences. A chronology developed around till compositional data and chronological constraints provided by paleomagnetic measurements on glacigenic sediments, and three volcanic ashes, indicate that the midcontinent tills can be grouped under three categories representing at least seven ice advances: two older groups of reverse-polarity tills containing a low and intermediate proportion of clasts and minerals derived from crystalline bedrock, respectively, and one younger group of normal-polarity tills enriched in crystalline materials. The bulk geochemistry of the silicate fraction of the midcontinent tills was then used to evaluate the character of the rock source eroded by ice sheets. The results show a general trend in which geochemical indices, from oldest to youngest tills, fall parallel to a mixing line defined by the composition of a weathered and fresh crystalline rock sources, respectively. The content in meteoric 10Be of tills also supports the existence of a regolith and its glacial erosion by -1.3 Ma, thus concordant with the onset of the MPT. Marine records of strontium, hafnium, and osmium isotopes provide additional support for the hypothesis. The nature of the till compositional changes was further addressed through a provenance study based on 504 40Ar/39Ar ages measured on individual K-feldspar grains retrieved from tills that span the last 2 Myr. Most samples yielded ages identical to those of numerical ages of the Churchill Province, thereby constraining deposition by ice from the western (Keewatin) sector of the Laurentide ice sheet. These results rule out a change in provenance, and thus show support for a change in the composition of the Churchill bedrock source during the late Cenozoic.
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