Late Cenozoic environments in the Barents Sea


  • Tore O. Vorren,

  • Morten Hald,

  • Erland Lebesbye


We examine the paleoceanography and paleogeography of the Barents Sea during the late Cenozoic glacial regime by seismostratigraphy and core analysis. During the smaller glaciations which probably dominated the first period of the glaciogenic regime (approximately 2.5–0.8 Ma?), glaciomarine processes with sediment influx from the adjacent mainland prevailed. The Barents Sea has been covered by grounded ice sheets several (five to 10) times during the late Cenozoic. We speculate that these glaciations occurred during the last 0.8 Ma. During these larger glaciations the margin of the ice sheet expanded to the shelf edge, and the continental shelf break and slope acted as a depocenter and prograded rapidly. Frequent sediment gravity flows accumulated on the lower continental slope. During interglacials, the Barents Sea was converted to a starved continental margin. Most of the Barents Sea was glaciated during the maximum of the last glaciation (19–16 ka). A two-stepped deglaciation, 16 to 13 ka and 13 to 10 ka, occurred. Incipient Atlantic water reached the western areas about 13 ka and totally replaced the Arctic water by 10 ka. These paleoceanographic events were delayed in the eastern Barents Sea.