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A 200 ka glaciation history from NW Svalbard

  • Helena Alexanderson
  • Mona Henriksen
  • Heidi T. Ryen
  • Jon Y. Landvik
  • Gustaf Peterson
Publishing year: 2018
Language: English
Document type: Conference paper: abstract

Abstract english

Late Quaternary sedimentary units at Kongsfjordhallet, NW Svalbard, represent five cycles of glaciations and subsequent deglaciations during high relative sea levels. The high sea-level events are interpreted as glacioisostatically induced and imply preceding regional glaciations, which we constrain in time by luminescence and radiocarbon ages to just prior to ~195 ka, ~130 ka, ~85 ka, ~60 ka and ~14 ka. Combined with the stratigraphical record from nearby Leinstranda (Alexanderson et al. 2011) we identify six, possibly seven, major glacial advances during the last 200 ka in the Kongsfjorden region. Two of these occurred during the Saalian and at least four during the Weichselian.
The results are based on detailed sedimentological, stratigraphical and chronological investigations of the uppermost 15 m of the 40-m-high Kongsfjordhallet coastal sections. The succession is dominated by sediments of marine and littoral origin, representing partial shallowing-upward sequences due to isostatic rebound. Only one subglacial till was recognized. Interestingly, alluvial and periglacial deposits, not commonly recognized in this type of setting, occur in the sequence. These include weathered coarse alluvium, sandy channel fills as well as cryoturbated sediments and solifluction deposits. The sedimentary succession has been summarised in a facies model for an emergence cycle following deglaciation.
Our study encompasses only the upper 15 m of the coastal cliff sections at Kongsfjordhallet (succession A of Houmark-Nielsen and Funder 1999), and there is an additional ~20 m of sediments below our Unit 1, which is promising for future studies aiming to go further back in time.

Alexanderson, H., Landvik, J. Y. and Ryen, H. T. 2011. Chronology and styles of glaciation in an inter-fjord setting, northwestern Svalbard. Boreas 40, 175-197.
Houmark-Nielsen, M. and Funder, S. 1999. Pleistocene stratigraphy of Kongsfjordhallet, Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Polar Research 18, 39-49.


  • Geology


33rd Nordic Geological Winter Meeting
2018-01-10 - 2018-01-12
Lyngby, Denmark
  • Glacial history of Svalbard
Helena Alexandersson
E-mail: helena [dot] alexanderson [at] geol [dot] lu [dot] se


Quaternary Sciences

+46 46 222 44 83



Aeolian sand project

Project members
Members of the aeolian sand project: Martin Bernhardson, Sara Florén, Edyta Kalińska-Nartiša and Helena Alexanderson.

Read more about the project here.