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Brigham, J.K., 1985

Marine stratigraphy and amino acid geochronology of the Gubik Formation, western Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska

Bibliographic Reference

Brigham, J.K., 1985, Marine stratigraphy and amino acid geochronology of the Gubik Formation, western Arctic Coastal Plain, Alaska: University of Colorado, Boulder, Ph.D. dissertation, 316 p., illust., maps.


The Pliocene/Pleistocene Gubik Formation that mantles the Arctic Coastal Plain includes wedges of marine sediment that represent one of the most complete records of high sea level stands in Arctic North America. These marine sequences have been subdivided into six members, each of which corresponds to a specific aminozone representing a depositional time period when sea level was above present. The oldest marine units, the Nulavik and Killi Creek members, are the most poorly preserved along Skull Cliff and represent high sea level stands that took place >2.2 and between 1.7 and 2.2 m.y. ago, respectively. An early Pleistocene transgression represented by deposits up to 33-36 m a.s.l. of the Tuapaktushak Member occurred sometime between 0.7 and 1.7 m.y. B.P. Extralimital mollusk faunas in these latter deposits suggest that coastal conditions along northern Alaska were warmer than they are today and that the Arctic Ocean may have lacked perennial sea ice during a portion of the early Pleistocene. The Karmuk Member consists of marine sediments deposited when sea level reached about 23 m a.s.l. about 500 ka B.P. and is characterized by marine conditions similar to today. About 125 ka B.P. sea level reached 8 to 10 m a.s.l. and beach and lagoonal sediments of the Walakpa Member were deposited. Marine conditions in the Chukchi Sea at that time were similar to today: however, several mollusks that today reach their northern limits in the Chukchi Sea expanded their ranges into the Beaufort Sea at this time. The youngest transgression onto the coastal plain took place 80 to 100 ka B.P. and deposited the Flaxman Member. These sediments are preserved only along the Beaufort Sea coast. At Barrow, Alaska, this transgression resulted in the formation of a curved spit about 7 m a.s.l. that is similar in form to the modern spit at Point Barrow. Eolian sand was periodically deposited and redistributed as a discontinuous sand sheet across portions of Coastal Plain throughout the Wisconsin. Mean annual air temperatures during the Happy and Duvanny Yar glacial intervals of the Wisconsinan averaged between -17 and -23 degrees C, or more than about 4.5 C lower than at present. Arctic summers throughout these periods were probably cooler. Finally, a dramatic warm interval, known as the birch period, initiated the active growth of thaw lakes and ice wedges and by 8.5 ka B.P. in situ peat began to accumulate.

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