Late Quaternary history of the Kap Mackenzie area, northeast Greenland


  • Bernd Wagner (e-mail: and Martin Klug (e-mail:, Institute for Geology and Mineralogy, University of Cologne, Zülpicher Strasse 49a, D-50674 Cologne, Germany; Ole Bennike (e-mail:, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Øster Voldgade 10, DK-1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark; Holger Cremer (e-mail:, Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO – Geological Survey of the Netherlands, Princetonlaan 6, NL-3584 CB Utrecht, The Netherlands


Wagner, B., Bennike, O., Cremer, H. & Klug, M. 2010: Late Quaternary history of the Kap Mackenzie area, northeast Greenland. Boreas, Vol. 39, pp. 492–504. 10.1111/j.1502-3885.2010.00148.x. ISSN 0300-9483.

The Kap Mackenzie area on the outer coast of northeast Greenland was glaciated during the last glacial stage, and pre-Holocene shell material was brought to the area. Dating of marine shells indicates that deglaciation occurred in the earliest Holocene, before 10 800 cal. a BP. The marine limit is around 53 m a.s.l. In the wake of the deglaciation, a glaciomarine fauna characterized the area, but after c. one millennium a more species-rich marine fauna took over. This fauna included Mytilus edulis and Mysella sovaliki, which do not live in the region at present; the latter is new to the Holocene fauna of northeast Greenland. The oldest M. edulis sample is dated to c. 9500 cal. a BP, which is the earliest date for the species from the region and indicates that the Holocene thermal maximum began earlier in the region than previously documented. This is supported by driftwood dated to c. 9650 cal. a BP, which is the earliest driftwood date so far from northeastern Greenland and implies that the coastal area was at least partly free of sea ice in summer. As indicated by former studies, the Storegga tsunami hit the Kap Mackenzie area at c. 8100 cal. a BP. Loon Lake, at 18 m a.s.l., was isolated from the sea at c. 6200 cal. a BP, which is distinctly later than expected from existing relative sea-level curves for the region.