Thursday, March 11, 2010
The Great Flood started here
World-altering collapse of ancient Canadian ice dam twice as massive as thought
Vancouver Sun: Dutch scientists probing deep layers of peat near the mouth of the Rhine River have shed fresh light on one of prehistoric Canada's most cataclysmic events -- the collapse of a glacial ice dam that sent a massive freshwater pulse into the Atlantic Ocean 8,500 years ago, radically altering the Earth's climate...
Their findings suggest the catastrophic drainage of Lake Agassiz -- a huge meltwater basin that covered nearly half of Canada at the end of the last ice age -- sent twice as much water into the sea as previously believed.
Since experts had already estimated the total Agassiz discharge as equivalent to '15 Lake Superiors' -- and linked the event to everything from the rise of agriculture in Europe to the ancient flood myths underlying the biblical story of Noah's Ark -- the proposed super-sizing of the Canadian gusher promises a deluge of new research into its effects on the world's climate, oceans and shorelines...
The worldwide climate impact of the Agassiz discharge -- first described in detail by University of Manitoba geologist James Teller -- has become a major focus of international researchers in the past decade... He found that with the lake at the greatest width and depth every in its 4,000-year lifespan, the glacier that had dammed Agassiz's northeastern shore broke somewhere along the icebound Hudson Bay about 8,500 years ago.
A huge torrent gushed into the ocean, draining the single greatest body of freshwater that has ever existed on the planet and profoundly altering the salinity, temperature and weather effects of the North Atlantic Ocean. Some of this country's earliest aboriginal occupants may have even witnessed the epic occurrence since the peopling of Canada roughly coincides with the retreat of the glaciers.
Image source here.