Deglacial and Holocene conditions in northernmost Baffin Bay: sediments, foraminifera, diatoms and stable isotopes


  • Karen Luise Knudsen (e-mail: and Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz (e-mail:, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Aarhus, DK-8000 Århus C, Denmark; Bjørg Stabell (e-mail:, Department of Geology, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1047 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway; Jón Eiríksson (e-mail:, Earth Science Institute, University of Iceland, Askja, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland; Weston Blake, Jr. (e-mail:, Geological Survey of Canada, 615 Booth Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E9, Canada


A multiproxy study of palaeoceanographic and climatic changes in northernmost Baffin Bay shows that major environmental changes have occurred since the deglaciation of the area at about 12 500 cal. yr BP. The interpretation is based on sedimentology, benthic and planktonic foraminifera and their isotopic composition, as well as diatom assemblages in the sedimentary records at two core sites, one located in the deeper central part of northernmost Baffin Bay and one in a separate trough closer to the Greenland coast. A revised chronology for the two records is established on the basis of 15 previously published AMS 14C age determinations. A basal diamicton is overlain by laminated, fossil-free sediments. Our data from the early part of the fossiliferous record (12 300–11 300 cal. yr BP), which is also initially laminated, indicate extensive seasonal sea-ice cover and brine release. There is indication of a cooling event between 11 300 and 10 900 cal. yr BP, and maximum Atlantic Water influence occurred between 10 900 and 8200 cal. yr BP (no sediment recovery between 8200 and 7300 cal. yr BP). A gradual, but fluctuating, increase in sea-ice cover is seen after 7300 cal. yr BP. Sea-ice diatoms were particularly abundant in the central part of northernmost Baffin Bay, presumably due to the inflow of Polar waters from the Arctic Ocean, and less sea ice occurred at the near-coastal site, which was under continuous influence of the West Greenland Current. Our data from the deep, central part show a fluctuating degree of upwelling after c. 7300 cal. yr BP, culminating between 4000 and 3050 cal. yr BP. There was a gradual increase in the influence of cold bottom waters from the Arctic Ocean after about 3050 cal. yr BP, when agglutinated foraminifera became abundant. A superimposed short-term change in the sea-surface proxies is correlated with the Little Ice Age cooling.