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Glacier-dammed lakes and geological work of glacial superfloods in the late Pleistocene, southern Siberia, Altai Mountains

, : Glacier-dammed lakes and geological work of glacial superfloods in the late Pleistocene, southern Siberia, Altai Mountains. Quaternary International 87(1): 0-140

Quaternary glacier-dammed lakes of Southern Siberia produced cataclysmic superfloods-floodstreams at the initial and final glacial stages, when the ice dams were unstable. Consequently, the initial surface was greatly and geologically instantly transformed. Morphologic associations of mountainous scablands developed, similar to the diluvial complexes of the Channeled Scabland in North America: giant diluvial ramparts and terraces-bars, diluvial berms and giant current ripple relief. Diluvial-erosional and evorsional forms, including spillways, outburst and oversplash gorges, and “dry waterfalls” are also present. The discharges of the glacial superfloods, which have been calculated by independent methods, were hundreds of cubic meters per second at the locations where the giant current ripple marks were formed, up to millions of cubic meters per second within the gorges. Maximum discharges of 18×106 m3 s−1 were characteristic of the diluvial floods in the runoff channel from the Chuya–Kuray system of the glacier-dammed lakes below the mouth of the Kuray depression as far as the settlement of Chibit. The power of those floods reached 106 W m−2. These values exceed the hydraulic parameters of the jokülhlaups from Late Quaternary Lake Missoula in North America, the floods of which previously were considered the most powerful freshwater streams in Earth history.The last phenomenal glacial superflood with discharges in excess of 1×106 m3 s−1 occurred in the Chuya and Katun valleys no later than 13 000 years ago. Afterwards, the glacier-dammed lakes degraded simultaneously with the degradation of the glaciers. The glacier-dammed lakes of the intermontane basins in Southern Siberia disappeared completely at some time after 5000 years ago. Calculations of the hydraulics and the estimates of the geological activity of the Quaternary jokülhlaups mean that the diluvial processes of relief formation can now be viewed as the most powerful exogenous process.


DOI: 10.1016/s1040-6182(01)00066-0

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