Late Weichselian deglaciation and sea level history of St Jonsfjorden, Spitsbergen: a contribution to ice sheet reconstruction

D J A Evans, B R Rea

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The elevation and age of surveyed shorelines in St Jonsfjorden, western Spitsbergen, provide a chronology for Late Weichselian deglaciation and a proxy for former ice thickness. Support is provided for previous reports of two sets of shorelines on NW Spitsbergen, the oldest (at 60 m in St Jonsfjorden) dating to a pre-late Weichselian glaciation and the youngest documenting postglacial rebound. The remarkable survival of the older shorelines suggests that a large area of NW Spitsbergen was either covered by protective, cold-based ice or was subject to only local glaciation during the late Weichselian even though glacier ice extended to the shelf edge ill the Isfjorden Trough. A marine limit of 46 m at the mouth of St Jonsfjorden is compatible with the regional late Weichselian marine limit (LWML) dated to similar to 13 ka BP. A partial relative sea level curve and equidistant shoreline diagram are produced for St Jonsfjorden and used in conjunction with relative sea level curves based on data from previous studies to produce an isobase map for 9 ka BP. The curves indicate that western sites were subject to initial slow emergence followed by rapid emergence between 10 ka and 8.2 ka BP, trends characteristic of areas affected by a full glacial sea or at least subject to early break up of a thin or discontinuous glacier ice cover. A step in the 9 ka BP shoreline long profile over the western end of the peninsula separating Isfjorden and van Mijenfjorden suggests that Holocene neotectonics may have produced anomalously high rebound rates in that area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-201
Number of pages27
JournalScottish Geographical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • last glacial maximum
  • late quaternary glaciation
  • Prins Karls Forland
  • Franz-Josef-Land
  • Barents Sea
  • Ellesmere-Island
  • postglacial emergence
  • Western Svalbard
  • Innuitian Ice
  • Fennoscandian Glaciation


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