Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 305–317 | Cite as

Constrained age of Glacial Lake Narragansett and the deglacial chronology of the Laurentide Ice Sheet in southeastern New England

  • Bryan A. Oakley
  • Jon C. Boothroyd
Original paper


The lack of radiocarbon ages and correlated varve sequences in southeastern New England has left the deglacial chronology of the region poorly constrained. A 265-year varve series from Glacial Lake Narragansett was constructed from eight continuous sediment cores collected from the Providence River, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. This varve series could not be correlated with either the North American Varve Chronology or other varve sequences from southern New England or southeastern New York. The uncorrelated varve sequences presented here represent the minimum time of deposition within the northern segment of Glacial Lake Narragansett. These sequences, used in conjunction with the calibrated North American Varve Chronology and cosmogenic exposure ages from recessional end moraines, provide minimum (>19,400 cal BP) and maximum (<20,500 cal BP) ages for Glacial Lake Narragansett. Correlations with the updated Greenland (NGRIP and GRIP) ice core records suggest that cold periods associated with moraine formation are 200–250 years older than the cosmogenic exposure ages. Whereas many studies refer to the last glacial maximum occurring from 20,000 to 18,000 cal BP, the constrained age of Glacial Lake Narragansett suggests that at least for the southeastern portion of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, deglaciation was well underway by this time.


Varve New England Laurentide Deglaciation Late Wisconsinan Glacial Lake Narragansett 



The authors were supported by the Department of Geosciences, College of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Rhode Island and funded by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council Cooperative agreement 50A00311741; The Rhode Island Sea Grant Program BayMap Project and the MapCoast project (NOAA CSC grant NA06NOS4730220). Thanks to C. Troskosky, T. Bottenus, M. Tarasevich (University of Rhode Island, Department of Geosciences) and M. Sutherland (University of New Hampshire) for assistance in the field and lab. J. King and D. Cares, University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography, provided assistance with core imaging. The North American Glacial Varve website maintained by J.C. Ridge (Tufts University) was invaluable in providing access to Antevs’ (1922, 1928) and other varve records from New England. M. Sutherland (UNH) and T. Smith (US Geological Survey) provided helpful comments on prior drafts of this manuscript. J.C. Ridge offered valuable discussion of varve deposition and potential links with northern hemisphere climate. The authors are especially indebted to J. Turenne (United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resource Conservation Service) for providing access to the pontoon boat used for coring and valuable assistance in the field.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Earth ScienceEastern Connecticut State UniversityWillimanticUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geosciences, College of the Environment and Life SciencesUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  3. 3.State Geologist, Rhode Island Geological Survey KingstonKingstonUSA

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