First Advisor

Andrew G. Fountain

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Glaciers -- Oregon -- Three Sisters Wilderness, Moraines -- Oregon -- Three Sisters Wilderness, Paleoclimatology -- Holocene, Paleoclimatology -- Oregon -- Three Sisters Wilderness



Physical Description

1 online resource (xiii, 92 pages)


At least four glacial stands occurred since 6.5 ka B.P. based on moraines located on the eastern flanks of the Three Sisters Volcanoes and the northern flanks of Broken Top Mountain in the Central Oregon Cascades. The youngest of these advances was the Little Ice Age (LIA) glaciation, which reached its maximum advance 150-200 yrs. B.P. and is defined by the large sharp crested and unvegetated moraines adjacent to the modern glaciers. In isolated locations less than 100 m downslope from these moraines, a second set of sparsely vegetated lateral moraines marks the Late-Neoglacial stand of the glaciers between 2.1 ± 0.4 and 7.7 ka B.P, A third set of Early-Neoglacial end moraines is 300-700 meters downslope of the modern glacier termini, and postdates 7.7 ka B.P. From SST temperature data (Barron et al., 2003) and a speleothem record (Vacco, 2003), we infer that this advance occurred between 4.5 and 6.5 ka B.P. Finally, the Fountonnor stand is marked by moraines 500-900 meters downslope of the modern glacier termini, and we infer these are latest Pleistocene or early Holocene.

Modem equilibrium line altitudes (ELAs) at the Three Sisters and Broken Top are approximately 2500 - 2600 m. During the LIA, the ELAs were 40 - 180 m lower, requiring cooler mean summer temperatures by 0.7 - 1.0°C and winter snowfall to increase by 10 - 60 cm water equivalent. The average Early Neoglacial and Fountonnor ELAs were 130 - 300 m and 290 - 320 m lower than modem glaciers, respectively, requiring air temperatures to be 0.7 - 1.6°C and 1.5 - 1.7°C cooler during the summer and winter snowfall to be 40 - 100 cm water equivalent and 90 - 100 cm water equivalent greater.


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