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Keywords:

  • East Greenland;
  • glacimarine sediments;
  • iceberg rafting;
  • laminated sediments;
  • sea ice;
  • turbid glacial meltwater

Laminated glacimarine sediments are observed in visual core logs and x-radiographs from Scoresby Sund and Nansen Fjord, east Greenland. They are mostly underlain and overlain by massive or stratified glacimarine diamicton (Dmm or Dms), which is a product of iceberg delivery of heterogeneous debris and, in Scoresby Sund, reworking by deep-drafted iceberg keels. The laminated sediments are AMS radiocarbon dated to two cold periods since the last, Late Weichselian deglaciation: the Younger Dryas stadial (Milne Land Stadial in east Greenland) and the Little Ice Age. During cold climatic events, multiyear shorefast sea ice (‘sikussak’) formed in these fjords and trapped the icebergs. Fine-grained, laminated muds (Fl) were deposited in Scoresby Sund when the flux of icebergs was suppressed, but turbid meltwater continued to provide some sediment flux to the fjord systems, varying through time to produce laminations. In Nansen Fjord, thinner and often massive mud layers (Fm) resulted from shorter intervals of sea-ice cover with no ice rafting. Stratified diamicton layers (Dms), which alternate with mud deposition to produce a laminated unit, probably represent intervening times of more open conditions with iceberg rafting. In Scoresby Sund, foraminifera are either absent from the laminated unit or begin to appear towards the end of its deposition. The absence of both benthic and planktonic foraminifera also suggests that multiyear sea ice was covering the core sites. There is no evidence of macrofaunal activity, and bioturbation is absent from the laminated sediments. Satellite data show that multiyear shorefast sea ice is present in several areas of the high Arctic today, and this traps icebergs calved from interior ice-cap drainage basins. Thus, the process of laminated glacimarine sediment formation is likely to be applicable to a number of areas of the modern and Quaternary Arctic.