Date of Graduation

5-2014

Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Department or Program

Earth and Oceanographic Science

First Advisor

Peter Lea

Abstract

Morainal and lacustrine sediments in Linnédalen, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, record the fluctuations of a glacier in a currently unglaciated mountain cirque during the Little Ice Age (LIA). This study attempts to reconstruct Late Holocene glacial activity within this cirque from geochemical, physical, and visual stratigraphic variation of the Linnévatnet lacustrine sediment record. A 57 cm lacustrine sediment core (D10.5) from Linnévatnet was analyzed at a high-resolution for variations in X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)-measured elemental composition, spectral reflectance, and magnetic susceptibility. The visual stratigraphy was observed at a microscopic scale. An age-depth model for D10.5 is developed by extrapolating sedimentation rates from dated horizons, measured by 239+240Pu radionuclide fallout dating and chemostratigraphic enrichment of atmospheric anthropogenic pollutants.

Visual stratigraphy of the sediment record indicates two periods of cirque glacier sediment delivery to Linnévatnet during the LIA (1329-1363 CE, 1816 CE-Present) and a third period of sediment delivery during the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA; 984-1082 CE). During non-glacial periods, stratigraphic variation in XRF-measured Ti and K appear to be associated with fluctuations in North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)-regulated precipitation. Within the LIA glacial intervals, decadal-scale variations in sediment Ti and K geochemistry may result from advance and retreat of the cirque glacier ice-margin or fluctuations in precipitation. Stratigraphic variation in Fe content indicates complex erosional and hydrological processes associated with MCA precipitation and glacial meltwater. Stratigraphic and geochemical variations in the lacustrine record of Linnévatnet indicate that both cirque glacier activity and sediment transport in Linnédalen are more sensitive to climatological change than previously thought.

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