Long-term landscape development of the Coloradofjella plateau, central Spitsbergen, Svalbard

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Fjellanger, Jakob ; Sørbel, Leif (2005)

The development and age of the present geomorphology and superficial material of the Coloradofjella plateau, Spitsbergen, have been investigated through field surveying and laboratory sediment analyses. The focus was specifically on the role of glacial erosion and periglacial processes. The summit plain is deeply incised with large V-shaped valleys. Extensive networks of ice wedge polygons indicate that the fine-grained regolith is at least a few metres thick. An abundance of coarse-grained gabbroid erratics, clearly derived from sources further to the east, are distributed over parts of the summit plain. A vertical-walled dolerite dyke protruding up to 4 m above the adjacent surface shows no sign of glacial erosion. Our findings confirm that the present bedrock geomorphology and regolith in the summit plain survived at least the Late Weichselian glaciation. This is best explained by the ice sheet having been cold-based throughout its existence on the summit plain. Cold-based conditions imply that permafrost survived the last glacial cover. Based on the geomorphic evidence and estimates of Late Cenozoic erosion, we suggest that the present summit plains roughly represent the remains of a preglacial surface.
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