Holocene glacial and climatic variations on Spitsbergen, Svalbard

  • Svendsen J
  • Mangerud J
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Holocene glacial and climatic variations have been inferred from investigations of sediment cores from the proglacial lake Linnevatnet, western Spitsbergen. A low content of glacially derived coal, absence of regular laminations and a slow sedimentation rate in the lower part of the lacustrine sediments indicate that the former glaciers that existed within the catchment area during the last ice age melted quickly away as a result of the Younger Dryas-Holocene warming, and during the next 6000 years there were no glaciers in the valley. Increasing coal content, incipient laminations and rising sedimentation rates indicate that the glacier Linnebreen started to form 4000-5000 years ago, probably as a response to the late-Holocene cooling. The Holocene maximum extent of the glacier occurred during the 'Little Ice Age', starting with a pronounced ice advance in the thirteenth or fourteenth century. A well-dated core from Billefjorden, which is assumed to reflect glacial fluctuations in the inner part of the Isfjorden area, indicates a similar development to that in the valley Linnedalen. No glacial signal was recorded during the early and mid-Holocene. The present tide water glaciers started to form 3000-4000 years ago, with glacial maxima around 500 cal. BC (2400-2500 BP) and during the 'Little Ice Age'.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Holocene
  • Svalbard
  • climatic change
  • denudation
  • erosion
  • glacier history
  • lacustrine sediments

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  • John Inge Svendsen

  • Jan Mangerud

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