The Barents Sea ice sheet - a sedimentological discussion

Article English OPEN
Elverhøi, Anders ; Solheim, Anders
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: Polar Research (issn: 1751-8369, eissn: 1751-8369)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/polar.v1i1.6968

Sediment sampling and shallow seismic profiling in the western and northern Barents Sea show that the bedrock in regions with less than 300 m water depth is unconformably overlain by only a thin veneer (< 10 m) of sediments. Bedrock exposures are probably common in these areas. The sediments consist of a Holocene top unit, 0.1-1.5 m in thickness, grading into Late Weichselian glaciomarine sediments. Based on average sedimentation rates (14C-dating) of the Holocene sediments, the transition between the two units is estimated to 10,00~12,000 B.P. The glaciomarine sediments are commonly 1-3 m in thickness and underlain by stiff pebbly mud, interpreted as till and/or glaciomarine sediments overrun by a glacier. In regions where the water depth is over 300 m the sediment thickness increases, exceeding 500 m near the shelf edge at the mouth of Bj0rnByrenna. In Bjbrn0yrenna itself the uppermost 15-20m seem to consist of soft glaciomarine sediments underlain by a well-defined reflector, probably the surface of the stiff pebbly mud. Local sediment accumulations in the form of moraine ridges and extensive glaciomarine deposits (20-60m in thickness) are found at 250-300m water depth, mainly in association with submarine valleys. Topographic highs, probably moraine ridges, are also present at the shelf edge. Based on the submarine morphology and sediment distribution, an ice sheet is believed to have extended to the shelf edge at least once during the Pleistocene. Spitsbergenbanken and the northern Barents Sea have also probably been covered by an ice sheet in the Late Weichselian. Lack of suitable organic material in the glacigenic deposits has prevented precise dating. Based on the regional geology of eastern Svalbard, a correlation of this younger stage with the Late Weichselian is indicated.
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