Numerous exposures of Pleistocene sediments occur in the Noatak basin, which extends for 130 km along the Noatak River in northwestern Alaska. Nk-37, an extensive bluff exposure near the west end of the basin, contains a record of at least three glacial advances separated by interglacial and interstadial deposits. An ancient river-cut bluff and associated debris apron is exposed in profile through the central part of Nk-37. The debris apron contains a rich biotic record and represents part of an interglaciation that is probably assignable to marine-isotope stage 5. Pollen spectra from the lower part of the debris apron closely resemble modern samples taken from the Noatak floodplain in spruce gallery forest, and macrofossils of spruce are also present at this level. Fossil bark beetles and carpenter ants occur higher in the debris apron. Mutual Climatic Range (MCR) estimates from the fossil beetles suggest temperatures similar to or warmer than today. Together, these fossils indicate the presence of an interglacial spruce forest in the western part of the Noatak Basin, which lies about 80 km upstream of the modern limit of spruce forest.
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Vol. 35 • No. 4