Late Quaternary ice sheet, lake and sea history of southwest Scandinavia - a synthesis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Larsen, Nicolaj Krog
  • Karen Luise Knudsen
  • Charlotte Fog Krohn
  • Christian Kronborg
  • Andrew S. Murray
  • Ole Bjørslev Nielsen

Based on a large number of new boreholes in northern Denmark, and on the existing data, a revised event-stratigraphy is presented for southwestern Scandinavia. Five significant Late Saalian to Late Weichselian glacial events, each separated by periods of interglacial or interstadial marine or glaciolacustrine conditions, are identified in northern Denmark. The first glacial event is attributed to the Late Saalian c. 160-140 kyr BP, when the Warthe Ice Sheet advanced from easterly and southeasterly directions through the Baltic depression into Germany and Denmark. This Baltic ice extended as far as northern Denmark, where it probably merged with the Norwegian Channel Ice Stream (NCIS) and contributed to a large discharge of icebergs into the Norwegian Sea. Following the break up, marine conditions were established that persisted from the Late Saalian until the end of the Early Weichselian. The next glaciation occurred c. 65-60 kyr BP, when the Sundsøre ice advanced from the north into Denmark and the North Sea, where the Scandinavian and British Ice Sheets merged. During the subsequent deglaciation, large ice-dammed lakes formed before the ice disintegrated in the Norwegian Channel, and marine conditions were reestablished. The following Ristinge advance from the Baltic, initiated c. 55 kyr BP, also reached northern Denmark, where it probably merged with the NCIS. The deglaciation, c. 50 kyr BP, was followed by a long period of marine arctic conditions. Around 30 kyr BP, the Scandinavian Ice Sheet expanded from the north into the Norwegian Channel, where it dammed the Kattegat ice lake. Shortly after, c. 29 kyr BP, the Kattegat advance began, and once again the Scandinavian and British Ice Sheets merged in the North Sea. The subsequent retreat to the Norwegian Channel led to the formation of Ribjerg ice lake, which persisted from 27 to 23 kyr BP. The expansion of the last ice sheet started c. 23 kyr BP, when the main advance occurred from north-northeasterly directions into Denmark. An ice-dammed lake was formed during deglaciation, while the NCIS was still active. During a readvance and subsequent retreat c. 19 kyr BP, a number of tunnel-valley systems were formed in association with ice-marginal positions. The NCIS finally began to break up in the Norwegian Sea 18.8 kyr BP, and the Younger Yoldia Sea inundated northern Denmark around 18 kyr BP. The extensive amount of new and existing data applied to this synthesis has provided a better understanding of the timing and dynamics of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet (SIS) during the last c. 160 kyr. Furthermore, our model contributes to the understanding of the timing of the occasional release of large quantities of meltwater from the southwestern part of the SIS that are likely to enter the North Atlantic and possibly affect the thermohaline circulation.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)732-761
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ID: 235142061