Paper No. 13-5
Presentation Time: 2:50 PM
A NEW COSMOGENIC EXPOSURE AGE FOR EMPLACEMENT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE'S MADISON BOULDER, REPUTEDLY THE LARGEST ERRATIC IN NORTH AMERICA
The 2,156 m3, ~6,000-ton Madison Boulder (43.931oN, -71.168oW, 184 m a.s.l.) has been the subject of speculative folklore and a geologic curiosity since its undocumented discovery in the late 17th or early 18th century by local settlers. The boulder is generally claimed to be the largest known glacial erratic in North America, although bedrock mapping shows it is not an erratic rock type as it rests directly upon locally buried outcrops of its parent Conway Granite. Madison Boulder was clearly plucked from Whitton Ledge, ~2.5 km to the NNW, in agreement with regional ice-sheet flow indicators, before it was transported and embedded by the Late Wisconsinan ice sheet. When this process took place has been a matter of discussion over the years, as bog- and pond-bottom 14C ages suggest that the ice sheet melted out this area about 14,000 cal 14C years BP. For example, a bulk sample of the deepest visible organic matter at 9.35-m depth in a sediment core recovered from Big Pea Porridge Pond, about 4 km to the ENE, provided a 13.84-14.15 ka cal 14C minimum age for deglaciation in the area. A similar bulk organic sample from near the base of a sediment core from Echo Lake, 12 km to the NNE, yielded a 12.68-13.38 ka cal 14C minimum age. Although both of these organic samples are AMS ages, bulk sediments could include older material deposited from the melting ice, offsetting some of the lag time typical between ice melt out and deposition of the first organic matter in bog and pond basins. Nevertheless, most of these lake- and pond-bottom basal ages appear to be consistent with the ice-marginal reconstructions of Ridge et al. (1999, 2001, 2012), which are based on varve, paleomagnetic, and 14C chronologies from proglacial lakes, including Glacial Lake Hitchcock. A recently obtained rock sample from the top surface of Madison Boulder provides a 10Be cosmogenic nuclide exposure age of 13.11 +/- 0.84 ka yr BP, in general accord with other ages for the deglaciation chronology in the area.