Encyclopedia of Paleoclimatology and Ancient Environments

2009 Edition
| Editors: Vivien Gornitz

Binge-Purge Cycles of Ice Sheet Dynamics

  • Martin J. Siegert
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4411-3_24


Binge-purge cycles of ice sheets are based on a hypothesis that ice sheets may exhibit short periods of enhanced ice flow (the purge phase) followed by longer spells of much slower flow (the binge phase). This behavior is thought to be controlled by internal ice sheet dynamics and, hence, may occur under stable environmental conditions. The main application of this hypothesis has been to the Laurentide Ice Sheet, which lay across much of North America during the last ice age (e.g., Siegert, 2001).

Binge-purge cycles and the Laurentide ice sheet

Marine sedimentological investigations have revealed a series of ice rafted debris deposits across the North Atlantic, corresponding to the 7,000 year periodic production of huge volumes of icebergs, named Heinrich layers (Heinrich, 1988; Bond et al., 1992). The cause of Heinrich layers is still debated. However, a commonly held view is that they were formed by periodic unstable flow of the Laurentide Ice Sheet during the last...
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© Springer-Verlag 2009

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  • Martin J. Siegert

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