Glacial dynamics and till genesis in hilly terrain A study in the Tallträsk area, central-northern Sweden

University dissertation from Umeå : Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap

Abstract: This study deals with the influence of topography on glacial dynamics and the genesis of till in an area of moder-ate bedrock relief. An area 25 km west of Lycksele, northern Sweden, was investigated using geomorphological and sedimentological methods. The bedrock is dominated by coarse-grained granites and the topography, ranging in altitude between 310 and 490 m. a.s.l., is characterized by relatively wide, free-lying hills.The erosional and depositional features provide evidence of several glacial events, with regional ice flows from approximately the same direction (NW-NNW). The gravel fraction of the till is dominated by material transported more than 10 km. However, the total glacial erosion has been modest, as indicated by the frequent occurrence of residual pre-glacial weathering features. There is no evidence of warm-based conditions during the period when the ice divide of the Late Weichselian ice sheet was situated E-SE of the study area. The major mor-phological impact is most likely by pre-Late Weichselian ice sheets.The general stratigraphy at the valley floors is a complex sequence of heterogeneous till and beds of sorted sediments with some evidence of glacial deformation covered by an up to 2.5-m-thick, texturally homogeneous till layer with distinct fissility structure and clast fabric orientation. The lower unit is interpreted as pre-Late Weichselian marginal deposits, and the upper till as mainly formed during rigid-bed conditions, i.e. by lodgement, during the last deglaciation. The role of pervasive deformation and melt-out in the formation of the upper till are discussed. Inferred mainly from till fabrics it is evident that the ice flow was strongly topographically controlled within a relatively wide marginal zone of the retreating ice.At the summits of the hills there are only signs of very weak glacial abrasive and depositional activity, sug-gesting frozen based conditions over the summits until a very late stage of the deglaciation. The very thin till at the summits, which also lay as a drape over the thick lee-side deposits, consists of a mixture of relatively fine-grained, distantly derived debris and of local bedrock fragments entrained during a very late phase of plucking.On the stoss- and lateral slopes of the hills the till is thin and discontinuous. The irregular bedrock surface in these areas created a “mosaic” of small-scale subglacial depositional environments, which were superimposed on the changes in the conditions for deposition along the hillslope. This till is comparatively coarse-grained, which is interpreted as an effect of syn-depositional winnowing of fines, and locally also because of the incorporation of local bedrock material largely from pre-glacially weathered zones.On the lee-sides of the hills the deposits are considerably thicker than on slopes facing other directions. They are characterized by highly variable texture and structure, suggesting a depositional environment characterized by large temporal and spatial variations in meltwater activity and stress/strain conditions. The lee-side tills are inter-preted as mainly pre-Late Weichselian in age.The overall conclusion is that the local topography strongly controlled the basal ice flow and produced a com-plex pattern of thermal variations within a relatively wide marginal zone of the ice sheet during the last deglacia-tion. The study supports the view that there are complete transitions between the different genetical types of sub-glacial tills, although the role of deformation by pervasive shearing is uncertain in this type of coarse-grained till.