Cumberland Peninsula

General Information:

The Cumberland Peninsula is located between 64º56' and 67º57' north latitude and 61º56' to 68º west longitude. This region is located in the southeastern region of Baffin Island and at the north eastern edge of the Precambrian Canadian Shield (Parks Canada, 2006). Two fjord systems cross the Cumberland Peninsula. The Kingnait Fjord to the east, leads northward into Pangnirtung Pass and becomes the Pangnirtung Fjord (Andrews, 2002). Ice cover of this region is shown in the satellite image below (Fig. 1).

The Penny Ice Cap lies to the northwest of the Pangnirtung Pass and a large portion of the area lies within the Auyuittuq National Park (Andrews, 2002).

Cumberland Peninsula Ice Cover

Figure 1: Satellite image of ice over the Cumberland Peninsula, Baffin Island (

Cumberland Peninsula - Canadian Glacier Inventory Project
Figure 2:The Pangnirtung Fiord located in the Cumberland Peninsula of Baffin Island. This valley contains river gravel and sand in a mountainous granitic terrain (Natural Resources Canada, 2007).

Glacial History:

The high relief preglacial topography that is present in the southeastern portion of Cumberland Peninsula was created by rifting (Kaplan & Miller, 2003). These land features led to the strong structural control on the location of the coastlines, fjords, and valleys, all of which were later exploited by glacial flow (Kaplan & Miller, 2003). During the late Wisconsian Glaciation period or last glacial maximum (25,000 to 8,000 years B.P.) both local glaciers and the Laurentide Ice Sheet impacted eastern Baffin Island (Kaplan & Miller, 2003). The last glacial maximum consisted of low-gradient warm-based dynamic ice that filled the lowlands and valleys of the Cumberland Peninsula (Kaplan & Miller, 2003). The upland crystalline terrain remained ice-free or was covered in cold-based ice (Kaplan & Miller, 2003).

The southern coastal Cumberland Peninsula shows geomorphic elements common to many other high-latitude, high relief regions (Kaplan et al., 2001). The glacially scared lowlands (fig. 2) are in stark contrast to the highly weathered uplands that lack any signs of glacial erosion (Kaplan et al., 2001). There is evidence that indicates that ice flowed around the uplands (fig. 2) fringing the coastline (Kaplan et al., 2001). The microrelief on the scoured bedrock surfaces are typically less than 1 cm, in contrast to the angular blocks through which bedrock residuals (advanced weathering characteristics) protrude at greater then 300 m above sea level (Kaplan et al., 2001). Striae and lateral moraines, which are directed southwest, south and southeast, as well as melt water channels and marine limits, are associated with the scoured landscape (Kaplan et al., 2001). Although there is strong evidence that ice flowed from the Cumberland Peninsula into Cumberland Sound, there is no evidence of the reverse occurring, thus the paleo-ice surface on the peninsula dipped towards the sound (Kaplan et al., 2001). Currently there are no glaciers along the coastal Southern Cumberland Peninsula, but glaciers do exist approximately 100 km to the north and northwest including the Penny Ice Cap (Kaplan & Miller, 2003).

Historic Glacial Movement
Figure 3: Physiographic map that shows surficial features of southern Cumberland Peninsula. Note that ice flowed around and not onto or over, plateaus fringing the coastline (Kaplan et al., 2001).

Baffin Island Introduction
Glaciated Peninsulas Include:
Brodeur Peninsula Cumberland Peninsula Hall Peninsula Meta Incognita Peninsula
Ice Caps on Baffin Island Include:
Barnes Ice Cap Grinnell Ice Cap Penny Ice Cap Terra Nivea Ice Cap
Glacial features in Cumberland Peninsula Include:
Boas Glacier Caribou Glacier Coronation Glacier Fork Beard Glacier Highway Glacier
Penny Ice Cap Tumbling Glacier
Glacial features in Hall Peninsula Include:
Grinnell Ice Cap
Glacial features in Meta Incognita Peninsula Include:
Terra Nivea Ice Cap
Additional Links:
Decade Glacier Effects of Climate Change on Baffin References