EGU21-12617, updated on 04 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Depositional environments in the northern Barents Sea, from the last glacial to the present — preliminary results

Vårin Trælvik Eilertsen1, Rydningen Tom Arne1, Matthias Forwick1, Monica Winsborrow1,2, and Jan Sverre Laberg1
Vårin Trælvik Eilertsen et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
  • 2Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE), Department of Geosciences, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway

The Eurasian Ice Sheet Complex was the world’s third largest ice mass during the last glacial maximum (LGM), and included the British, Fennoscandian and Svalbard–Barents Sea ice sheets. Of these three, the mostly marine-based Svalbard-Barents Sea Ice Sheet (SBIS) is the least well constrained in terms of ice sheet dynamics and deglacial retreat patterns. Improving the understanding of the behavior and decay of this marine paleo-ice sheet can provide knowledge that is relevant to understanding the future evolution of the marine terminating ice margins in Greenland and Antarctica, which are today undergoing rapid retreat and thinning.

We present high-resolution TOPAS sub-bottom profiler data and multi-proxy analyses of four sediment gravity cores (1.15 to 5.05 m long) retrieved from water depths of c. 250-550 m in a trough south of Kvitøya, NW Barents Sea. The data were collected during the Nansen Legacy (https:/ Paleo-cruise in 2018, with the aim of reconstructing the patterns and timing of deglaciation of the SBIS and postglacial environmental changes in the northern Barents Sea. The data show a succession of up to 10 m high and 400 m wide ridges, interpreted to be recessional push-moraines, representing small still-stands or re-advances of the ice front during its retreat in southwesterly direction. An up to 40 m high and 20 km long sedimentary wedge in the central and western part of the study area buries some of these moraines. This wedge is interpreted to be a grounding zone wedge representing a major still-stand or re-advance during the deglaciation.

The gravity cores are located distal to, on the distal slope and on top of the grounding zone wedge. A muddy diamict defines the lowermost unit in each core. It is interpreted to be primarily subglacial till. This till is covered by laminated mud, interpreted to represent sedimentation from meltwater plumes that emanated from the nearby ice margin. Massive marine mud containing scattered clasts (the clasts are interpreted to be ice rafted debris) define the uppermost unit in all cores. This is suggested to represent deposition from suspension settling and ice rafting in a glacier-distal environment at the end of the last glacial, as well as during modern conditions.

Radiocarbon dates (submitted for dating) will provide a minimum age for the formation of the grounding zone wedge and the recessional moraines in front of it. This will improve the chronology on the deglacial events forming these deposits and landforms. Together with detailed multi-proxy analyses of the sedimentary units, this will also provide new knowledge about the development from glacial conditions to a glacier-proximal and –distal, and an open marine environment from the last glacial to the present.

How to cite: Trælvik Eilertsen, V., Tom Arne, R., Forwick, M., Winsborrow, M., and Laberg, J. S.: Depositional environments in the northern Barents Sea, from the last glacial to the present — preliminary results, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12617,, 2021.