The Svalbard Barents Sea Ice Sheet deglaciation and its contribution to meltwater pulse 1a: Constraining ice sheet history with geomorphological mapping and 10Be exposure dating on Svalbard’s southern cape

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Daniel Blake Nothaft1, Tobias Koffman1,2, Joerg M Schaefer1,3, Nicolas E Young3,4, Anne Hormes5 and Jason P Briner4, (1)Columbia University of New York, Palisades, NY, United States, (2)University of Maine, Orono, ME, United States, (3)Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States, (4)University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, United States, (5)The University Centre in Svalbard, Department of Geology, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway
Pinpointing the sources of meltwater pulse (MWP) 1a—the most abrupt period of sea level rise during the last glacial termination—remains one of paleoclimatology’s greatest challenges, with implications for the understanding of rapid climate change, isostatic rebound, and past ocean circulation. Here, we present an annotated geomorphological map of a southern region of Svalbard, Norway, that we will use in the interpretation of a soon-to-be published  10Be chronology of this study area where no cosmogenic nuclide exposure data has yet been produced. From this map, we infer historic ice sheet thickness, flow rate, and erosivity. Together, this data will enable us to constrain ice sheet volume change over time in southern Svalbard. The map identifies raised beaches at an altitude of 40 m, indicating an ice sheet thickness of 400-800 m during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) when compared to other shoreline data from the region and ice sheet models. We also observed an abundance of glacially smoothed features in valleys, despite an absence of such features at higher elevations. This could suggest a transition from warm-based, erosive ice to cold-based, non-destructive ice with increasing elevation. It is also possible that mountain peaks in this region were not glaciated at LGM. It is important to assess the historic erosivity of an ice sheet because cosmogenic nuclides may be inherited from prior interstadials when the bedrock was deglaciated, if not “reset” by erosion. This can result in erroneously old exposure dates. If this portion of the Svalbard Barents Sea Ice Sheet (SBSIS) did contribute largely to MWP-1a, then we would expect exposure dates from sites differing in elevation by 100 m or more to fall within a 500-year range, centered around 14 ka. Expeditions to collect samples for exposure dating at other field sites in southern Svalbard, scheduled for the coming field season, will help to further inform our understanding of the SBSIS deglaciation and the MWP-1a.