Episodes of ice-sheet disintegration and meltwater release over glacial–interglacial cycles are recorded by discrete layers of detrital sediment in the Labrador Sea1,2. The most prominent layers reflect the release of iceberg armadas associated with cold Heinrich events3, but the detrital sediment carried by glacial outburst floods from the melting Laurentide Ice Sheet is also preserved4. Here we report an extensive layer of red detrital material in the Labrador Sea that was deposited during the early last interglacial period. We trace the layer through sediment cores collected along the Labrador and Greenland margins of the Labrador Sea. Biomarker data, Ca/Sr ratios and δ18O measurements link the carbonate contained in the red layer to the Palaeozoic bedrock of the Hudson Bay. We conclude that the debris was carried to the Labrador Sea during a glacial outburst flood through the Hudson Strait, analogous to the final Lake Agassiz outburst flood about 8,400 years ago, probably around the time of a last interglacial cold event in the North Atlantic5. We suggest that outburst floods associated with the final collapse of the Laurentide Ice Sheet may have been pervasive features during the early stages of Late Quaternary interglacial periods.
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We thank I. N. McCave for insightful discussion and suggestions for the paper. M. Hall, J. Rolfe and S. Crowhurst provided technical assistance. W. Hale and A. Wülbers at the Bremen Core Repository assisted with sampling, U. Rohl, V. Lukies and T. Westerhold at MARUM for assistance with XRF core scanning. This research used samples provided by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). Financial support for this research was provided by NERC Grant NE/H009930/1 to D.A.H. and NERC studentship to J.A.L.N. B.D.A.N. acknowledges financial support from DFG-grant NA973/1-1 and J.E.T.C from National Science Foundation Grant OCE-0850413.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Nicholl, J., Hodell, D., Naafs, B. et al. A Laurentide outburst flooding event during the last interglacial period. Nature Geosci 5, 901–904 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1622
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