Sedimentological characteristics of ice-wedge polygon terrain in Adventdalen (Svalbard) – environmental and climatic implications for the late Holocene
Abstract. Ice wedges are widespread periglacial features in the landscape of Adventdalen, Svalbard. The networks of ice wedges have created areas with well-developed polygonal terrains in the lowest fluvial terraces in this valley. We have examined the sedimentological characteristics of the northern and southern banks of the Advent river for palaeoenvironmental purposes. The base of two sedimentary sections reported radiocarbon dates of 3.3 and 3.9 ka BP, respectively. The northern site is constituted by three very different lithostratigraphical units, which suggests that their formation should be related to different environmental and climate conditions. By contrast, the southern section shows a rather homogeneous composition, with no significant variations in grain size and organic matter content. In both cases the uppermost sediments are constituted by a thick aeolian deposit. According to our data, warmer climate conditions may have prevailed during the mid Holocene until 3.3 ka BP with widespread peat formation in the valley bottom. Subsequently, a period with alternating soil formation and aeolian sedimentation took place from 3 to 2.5 ka BP, probably due to increasing climatic severity. During the last millennium a long-term cooling trend has favoured aeolian deposition in the lowest part of Adventdalen.