Geological and geomorphological evolution of a sedimentary periglacial landscape in Northeast Siberia during the Late Quaternary

TitleGeological and geomorphological evolution of a sedimentary periglacial landscape in Northeast Siberia during the Late Quaternary
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsGrosse, G, Schirrmeister, L, Siegert, C, Kunitsky, VV, Slagoda, EA, Andreev, AA, Dereviagyn, AY
Date PublishedApril 2007
KeywordsGIS, Periglacial landscape, Permafrost, Quaternary environment, Remote sensing, Thermokarst

A wide variety of environmental records is necessary for analysing and understanding the complex Late Quaternary dynamics of permafrost-dominated Arctic landscapes. A NE Siberian periglacial key region was studied in detail using sediment records, remote sensing data, and terrain modelling, all incorporated in a geographical information system (GIS). The study area consists of the Bykovsky Peninsula and the adjacent Khorogor Valley in the Kharaulakh Ridge situated a few kilometres southeast of the Lena Delta. In this study a comprehensive cryolithological database containing information from 176 sites was compiled. The information from these sites is based on the review of previously published borehole data, outcrop profiles, surface samples, and our own field data. These archives cover depositional records of three periods: from Pliocene to Early Pleistocene, the Late Pleistocene and the Holocene. The main sediment sequences on the Bykovsky Peninsula consist of up to 50[no-break space]m thick ice-rich permafrost deposits (Ice Complex) that were accumulated during the Late Pleistocene. They were formed as a result of nival processes around extensive snowfields in the Kharaulakh Ridge, slope processes in these mountains (such as in the Khorogor Valley), and alluvial/proluvial sedimentation in a flat accumulation plain dominated by polygonal tundra in the mountain foreland (Bykovsky Peninsula). During the early to middle Holocene warming, a general landscape transformation occurred from an extensive Late Pleistocene accumulation plain to a strongly thermokarst-dominated relief dissected by numerous depressions. Thermokarst subsidence had an enormous influence on the periglacial hydrological patterns, the sediment deposition, and on the composition and distribution of habitats. Climate deterioration, lake drainage, and talik refreezing occurred during the middle to late Holocene. The investigated region was reached by the post-glacial sea level rise during the middle Holocene, triggering thermo-abrasion of ice-rich coasts and the marine inundation of thermokarst depressions.