Millennial-scale iceberg discharges in the Irminger Basin during the Last Glacial Period: Relationship with the Heinrich events and environmental settings


  • Mary Elliot,

  • Laurent Labeyrie,

  • Gerard Bond,

  • Elsa Cortijo,

  • Jean-Louis Turon,

  • Nadine Tisnerat,

  • Jean-Claude Duplessy


High-resolution records of coarse lithic content and oxygen isotope have been obtained in a piston core from the Irminger Basin. The last glacial period is characterized by numerous periods of increased iceberg discharges originating partly from Iceland and corresponding to millennial-scale instabilities of the coastal ice sheets and ice shelves in the Nordic area. A comparison with midlatitude sediment cores shows that ice-rafted material corresponding to the Heinrich events was deposited synchronously from 40° to 60°N. There are thus two oscillating systems: every 5–10 kyr massive iceberg armadas are released from large continental ice caps, whereas more frequent instabilities of the coastal ice sheets in the high latitude regions occur every 1.2–3.8 kyr. At the time of the Heinrich events the synchroneity of the response from all the northern hemisphere ice sheets attests the existence of strong interactions between the two systems.