Evidence for full-glacial flow and retreat of the Late Weichselian Ice Sheet from the waters around Kong Karls Land, eastern Svalbard

TitleEvidence for full-glacial flow and retreat of the Late Weichselian Ice Sheet from the waters around Kong Karls Land, eastern Svalbard
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHogan, KA, Dowdeswell, JA, Noormets, R, Evans, J, Cofaigh, CÓ
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
ISBN Number0277-3791

Marine-geophysical and geological data from the seafloor surrounding Kong Karls Land in eastern Svalbard are used to reconstruct Late Weichselian full-glacial flow dynamics and retreat history of the Barents Sea Ice Sheet (BSIS). Grounded ice extended over the entire area during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and produced streamlined sedimentary landforms in the broad bathymetric troughs that flank the Kong Karls Land archipelago. The landforms were produced in subglacial till as a result of subglacial processes at the base of the ice sheet. Drumlins and hill–hole pairs confirm that regional ice-flow was towards the east–northeast through the troughs. Based on the absence of ice-margin recessional features, deglaciation in Olga Strait, Erik Eriksen Strait and the unnamed deep northeast of Kong Karls Land appears to have been rapid in the deeper, outer parts of the troughs. In contrast, in the shallower parts of the troughs, ice recession was slower and minor readvances/still-stands of the ice margin resulted in the formation of recessional moraines. During deglaciation, temporary calving bays formed in the deeper parts of the troughs and calved icebergs were evacuated away from the ice margin through the troughs. Grounding-zone features formed in Olga Strait indicate that retreat here was gradual and punctuated by longer still-stands. The transition from a grounded ice sheet to ice-proximal settings is marked locally by a laminated mud sequence deposited from meltwater plumes from a nearby ice margin. The presence of meltwater-derived facies suggests that melting may have also been a significant ice loss mechanism during retreat. In a broader context, this study is one of the first investigations of the seafloor east of Svalbard, providing evidence that ice drained towards the east-northeast during full-glacial conditions. Ice from this part of the BSIS was an important contributor to the palaeo-ice stream in the large Franz Victoria Trough during the LGM.