Glacial retreat sedimentation in the Smalfjord Formation, Late Precambrian, North Norway



    1. Department of Geology and Mineralogy, Oxford University, Oxford
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      Norsk Polarinstitutt, 1330 Oslo Lufthavn, Norway and NTNF (Continental Shelf Division), Hoffsveien 13, Oslo 2, Norway.


Tillites, conglomerates and sandstones occurring in the basal part of the Smalfjord Formation along the Varangerfjord, East Finnmark, North Norway are believed to have formed during the retreat of a glacier.

At Kvalnes, on the south side of the fjord, the following sequence, up to 20 m thick, is found: (1) massive monomict tillite interpreted as a subglacial till, (2) massive polymict tillite with lenticular intercalations of stratified sandstone and tillite, interpreted as supraglacial/proglacial drift, (3) polymict conglomerate interstratified with laminated sandstones, interpreted as braided stream deposits. The last named interfingers laterally and is overlain by marine sandstones.

At Bigganjargga, near the head of the fjord, a lens of tillite about 3 m thick rests on a striated pavement and is overlain by sandstones and shales. Part of the tillite, containing irregular patches of slightly winnowed tillite, is interpreted as a melt-out till, while a marginal part consisting of inclined tillite beds is interpreted as a series of flow till deposits. The lens is believed to be an oblique section through what was originally an ice-cored moraine ridge. During a subsequent transgression, the moraine was partially eroded, a lag conglomerate was formed, and overlying marine sediments were deposited.

Bedded flow tills formed in a supraglacial/proglacial environment may be preserved where the extent of current reworking is very low (such as an isolated end moraine). Stratified conglomerate and sandstone, intimately intercalated with tillite, is to be expected at a glacier margin where glacial meltwater is locally and occasionally abundant, and glacier ablation permits downslope flowage of mobilized supraglacial fluid till.