Late Pleistocene Glacial Geology of the Hope-Waiau Valley System in North Canterbury, New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis presents stratigraphic, sedimentological and geochronological results from valley fill and glacial moraines of the Hope-Waiau Valleys in North Canterbury, New Zealand. The findings demonstrate that a substantial portion of the modern valley fill comprises in-situ sedimentary sequences that were deposited during the penultimate glaciation (OIS 6), the last interglacial (OIS 5) and during the mid-late last glacial cycle (OIS 3/2). The sediments survived at low elevations in the valley floor despite overriding by later glacial advances. Sedimentologically, the fill indicates deposition in an ice marginal zone and consists of paraglacial/distal-proglacial aggradation gravels and ice-proximal/marginal-subglacial sediments. Deposition during glacial advance phases was characterized by the sedimentation of outwash gravels and small push moraines while glacial retreat phases are dominated by glaciolacustrine deposits which are frequently interbedded with debris flow diamictons. The overall depositional arrangement indicates that glacial retreat from the lower valley portion occurred via large scale ice stagnation. Results from infra-red stimulated luminescence (IRSL) dating gives evidence for five large aggradation and degradation phases in the Hope-Waiau Valleys over the last 200 ka. Combined with surface exposure dating (SED) of moraines the geochronological results indicate that glacial advances during OIS 6 were substantially larger in both ice extent and ice volume than during OIS 4-2. The last glacial maximum (LGM) ice advance occurred prior to 20.5 ka and glacial retreat from extended ice positions began by ~18 ka BP. A late glacial re-advance (Lewis Pass advance) occurred at ~13 ka BP and is probably associated with a regional cooling event correlated to the Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR). The findings from the Hope-Waiau Valleys were integrated into a model for glaciations in the Southern Alps which uses data from a snow mass balance model to analyse the sensitivity of glacial accumulation to temperature forcing. Model results indicate that in the central hyperhumid sector of the Southern Alps ice would expand rapidly with minor cooling (2-4℃) suggesting that full glaciation could be generated with little thermal forcing. Some Quaternary glacial advances in the Southern Alps may have been triggered by regional climate phenomena (e.g. changes in ENSO mode) rather than requiring a thermal trigger from the Northern Hemisphere.