Skip to main content

Heavy-mineral analysis as a tool to trace the source areas of sediments in an ice-marginal valley, with an example from the Pleistocene of northwest Poland

  • M. Pisarska-Jamroży (a1), A.J. van Loon (a2), B. Woronko (a3) and B. Sternal (a1)

The ice caps that covered large parts of the continents of the northern hemisphere during the Pleistocene glaciations drained huge quantities of meltwater. In several places the erosive power of the meltwater rivers has led to the formation of ice-marginal valleys (IMVs). A much-debated question is whether sediments deposited in IMVs by proglacial and extraglacial streams can be distinguished on the basis of their heavy-mineral content. This question was assessed by an inventory of the heavy-mineral assemblages from the middle part of the Toruń-Eberswalde IMV in northwest Poland, two sandurs that supplied sediment from the north and the pre-Wisła river system that supplied sediment from the south; all these streams fed the IMV. The largely similar heavy-mineral compositions and sediments concentrations of the middle part of the IMV and sandurs suggest that the sediment in the IMV was supplied almost entirely by the streams on the sandurs but also that some sediments were eroded from the Miocene subsoil of the IMV itself and for a small part from the south by the pre-Wisła river system. The only heavy mineral in the pre-Wisła sediments for which the percentage is significantly different from those in the sediments of the sandurs and the IMV terrace is epidote. The difference, however, is not seen in the sediments of the IMV so it can be concluded that the sediment supply to the middle part of this IMV by streams from the south was insignificant. This is in contrast with what was hitherto commonly assumed.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email:;
Hide All
Bartczak, E., 2006. Objaśnienia do Szczegółowej Mapy Geologicznej w skali 1:50 000. Arkusz Piła (Explanations to the Detailed Geological Map of Poland at scale 1:50 000, sheet Piła). Polish Geological Institute (Warsaw).
Berger, G.W., 1990. Effectiveness of natural zeroing of the thermoluminescence in natural sediments. Journal of Geophysical Research 95: 1237512397.
Berger, G.W. & Luternauer, J.J., 1987. Preliminary weld work for thermoluminescence dating studies at the Fraser River delta, British Columbia. Geological Survey of Canada Paper 87: 901904.
Boothroyd, J.C. & Ashley, G.M., 1975. Processes, bar morphology and sedimentary structures on braided outwash fans, northeastern Gulf of Alaska. In: Jopling, A.V. & McDonald, B.C. (eds): Glaciofluvial and Glaciolacustrine Sedimentation. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special Publication 23: 193222.
Börner, A., 2007. Das Eberswalder Urstromtal – Untersuchung zur pleistozänen Landschaftsgenese zwischen Niederem Oderbruch und Werbellinseerinne (Nordost-Brandenburg) (The Eberswalde ice-marginal valley – investigation of the genesis of the landscape between Nieder Oderbruch and the tunnel valley of the Werbellinesee (north-east Brandenburg) during the Pleistocene). Schriftenreihe für Geowissenschaften 17: 118 pp.
Busschers, F.S., Kasse, C., van Balen, R.T., Vandenberghe, J., Cohen, K.C., Weerts, H.J.T., Wallinga, J., Johns, C., Cleveringa, P. &, Bunnik, F.P.M., 2007. Late Pleistocene evolution of the Rhine-Meuse system in the southern North Sea Basin: imprints of climate change, sea-level oscillation and glacio-isostacy. Quaternary Science Reviews 26: 32163248.
Church, M. & Gilbert, R., 1975. Proglacial fluvial and lacustrine sediments. In: Jopling, A.V. & McDonald, B., (eds): Glaciofluvial and Glaciolacustrine Sedimentation. Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special Publication 23: 22100.
Derkachev, A.N. & Nikolaeva, N.A., 2013. Possibilities and restrictions of heavy-mineral analysis for the reconstruction of sedimentary environments and source areas. Geologos 19: 147158.
Galon, R., 1961. Morphology of the Noteć-Warta (or Toruń-Eberswalde) ice marginal streamway. Prace Geograficzne 29: 7115.
Galon, R., 1968. New facts and problems pertaining to the origin of the Notec-Warta pradolina and the valleys linked with it. Przegląd Geograficzny 40: 307315.
Gemmell, A.M.D., 1994. Thermoluminescence in suspended sediment of glacier meltwater streams. Journal of Glaciology 40: 158166.
Goździk, J., Kenig, K. & Skórzak, A., 2010. Zmiany kształtu ziaren kwarcowych oraz składu mineralnego piaszczystych osadów miocenu, pliocenu i niższego czwartorzędu w Rowie Kleszczowa. (Changes in the shape of quartz grains and in mineral composition in Miocene, Pliocene and Early Quaternary sand deposits in the Kleszczów Graben). Biuletyn PIG 438: 3350.
Jain, M., Murray, A.S. & Bøtter-Jensen, L., 2004. Optically stimulated luminescence dating: how significant is incomplete light exposure in fluvial environments? Quaternaire 15: 143157.
Jania, J. & Bukowska-Jania, E., 1997. Model procesów paleoglacjalnych fazy pomorskiej vistulianu w obrębie lobu Parsęty na podstawie badań obszarów aktualnie zlodowaconych (Model of palaeoglacial processes during the Pomeranian phase of the Weichselian glaciation in the Parsęta lobe on the basis of currently glaciated areas). In: Bukowska-Jania, E. & Pulina, M. (eds): Studia nad środowiskiem geograficznym Bornego Sulinowa (Investigation of the geographical environment in Borne Sulinowo). Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN (Warsaw): 2757.
Kozarski, S., 1965. Zagadnienie drogi odpływu wód pradolinnych z zachodniej części Pradoliny Noteci-Warty (The problem of the fluvial outflow from the western part of the Noteć-Warta ice-marginal valley). Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk, Wydział Matematyczno-Przyrodniczy, Prace Komisji Geograficzno-Geologicznej 5: 187.
Kozarski, S., 1966. Die glazialen Abflußverhältnisse im westlischen Teil des Noteć-Warta Urstromtales. Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswald 15: 6372.
Kozarski, S., 1986. Skale czasu a rytm zdarzeń zdarzeń geomorfologicznych vistulianu na Niżu Polskim (Timescales and the rhythm of Vistulian geomorphic events in the Polish Lowland). Czasopismo Geograficzne 57: 247270.
Ludwikowska-Kędzia, M., 2013. The assemblages of transparent heavy minerals in Quaternary sediments of the Kielce-Łagów Valley (Holy Cross Mountains, Poland). Geologos 19: 95129.
Mange, M.A. & Maurer, H.F.W., 1992. Heavy Minerals in Colour. Chapman and Hall (London): 147 pp.
Marcinkowski, B., 2007. Wykorzystanie składu mineralnego i morfologii ziaren minerałów ciężkich do określania środowiska sedymentacyjnego (Application of the mineral composition and the morphology of mineral grains to the interpretation of the sedimentary environment). Przegląd Geologiczny 55: 207.
Marks, L., 2012. Timing of the Late Vistulian (Weichselian) glacial phases in Poland. Quaternary Science Reviews 44: 8188.
Miall, A.D., 1978. Lithofacies types and vertical profile models in braided river deposits: a summary. In: Miall, A.D., (ed.): Fluvial Sedimentology. Canadian Society of Petroleum Geologists 5: 597604.
Morawski, J., 1969. Próba charakterystyki i porównania piasków fluwioglacjalnych zlodowacenia bałtyckiego i środkowopolskiego z obszaru Polski wschodniej (Characteristics and comparison of glaciofluvial sands of the Weichselian and Saalian glaciations in the eastern part of Poland). Folia Societatis Scientiarum Lublinensis 9: 2935.
Murray, A.S. & Olley, J.M., 2002. Precision and accuracy in the optically stimulated luminescence dating of sedimentary quartz: a status review. Geochronometria 21: 116.
Negendank, J.F.W., 1973. Geochemical aspects of the igneous rocks of the Valley of Mexico. Geofisica International 13: 267278.
Passchier, S., 2007. The use of heavy minerals in the reconstruction of ice-sheet drainage patterns: an example from the edge of the East Antarctic ice sheet. In: Mange, M.A. & Wright, D.T. (eds): Heavy Minerals in Use. Developments in Sedimentology. Elsevier (Amsterdam): 58: 677700.
Pisarska-Jamroży, M., 2006. Transitional deposits between endmoraine and sandur plain in the Pomeranian glaciomarginal zone of NW Poland: a missing component of ice-contact sedimentary models. Boreas 35: 126141.
Pisarska-Jamroży, M., 2008. Zonation of glaciomarginal environment inferred from Pleistocene deposits of Myślibórz Lakeland, NW Poland. Geografiska Annaler 90A: 237249.
Pisarska-Jamroży, M., 2013. Varves and megavarves of the Eberswalde Valley (NE Germany) – a key for the interpretation of glaciolimnic processes. Sedimentary Geology 291: 8496.
Pisarska-Jamroży, M. & Zieliński, T., 2011. Genesis of a till/sand breccia (Pleistocene, Noteć Valley near Atanazyn, central Poland). Sedimentary Geology 236: 109116.
Pisarska-Jamroży, M. & Zieliński, T., 2014. Pleistocene sandur rhythms, cycles and megacycles: Interpretation of depositional scenarios and palaeoenvironmental conditions. Boreas 43: 330348.
Powers, M.C., 1982. Comparison chart for estimating roundness and sphericity. AGI Data Sheet 18. American Geological Institute (Alexandria, VA).
Preusser, F., Degering, D., Fuchs, M., Hilgers, A., Kadereit, A., Klasen, N., Krbetschek, M., Richter, D. & Spencer, J.Q.G., 2008. Luminescence dating: basics, methods and applications. Quaternary Science Journal 57: 95149.
Racinowski, R., 2010. Główne przeźroczyste minerały ciężkie w osadach czwartorzędowych Polski [Main transparent heavy minerals in Quaternary deposits]. Biuletyn PIG 438: 99106.
Rappol, M. & Stoltenberg, H.M.P., 1985. Compositional variability of Saalian till in The Netherlands and its origin. Boreas 14: 3350.
Rittenour, T.M., 2008. Luminescence dating of fluvial deposits: applications to geomorphic, palaeoseismic and archaeological research. Boreas 37: 613635.
Singarayer, J.S., Bailey, R.M., Ward, S. & Stokes, S., 2005. Assessing the completeness of optical resetting of quartz OSL in the natural environment. Radiation Measurements 40: 1325.
Van Loon, A.J., 1972/1973. ‘Habitus’ of some heavy minerals from the Tertiary of Southern Limburg (The Netherlands). Mededelingen van de Rijks Geologische Dienst, Nieuwe Serie 23: 3967.
Van Loon, A.J., 2013. The revival of heavy-mineral analysis as a tool for sedimentological research. Geologos 19: 14.
Van Loon, A.J. & Mange, M.A., 2007. ‘In situ’ dissolution of heavy minerals through extreme weathering, and the application of the surviving assemblages and their dissolution characteristics to correlation of Dutch and German silver sands. In: Mange, M.A. & Wright, D. (eds): Heavy Minerals in Use. Developments in Sedimentology. Elsevier (Amsterdam) 58: 189213.
Vareikienė, O., Marmo, J., Chernet, T. & Laukkanen, J., 2007. Results of heavy mineral pre-concentration by the Knelson for the geochemical study of soil: a case study in Lithuania. Geologija 60: 19.
Wachecka-Kotkowska, L. & Ludwikowska-Kędzia, M., 2013. Heavy-mineral assemblages from fluvial Pleniglacial deposits of the Piotrków Plateau and the Holy Cross Mountains – a comparative study. Geologos 19: 131146.
Wallinga, J., 2002. Optically stimulated luminescence dating of fluvial deposits: a review. Boreas 31: 303322.
Weckwerth, P., 2013. Procesy fluwialne toruńskiego basenu sedymentacyjnego podczas zlodowacenia wisły (Fluvial processes of the Toruń sedimentary basin during the Weichselian glaciation). Nicolaus Copernicus University Press (Toruń): 205 pp.
Weckwerth, P. & Chabowski, M., 2013. Heavy minerals as a tool to reconstruct river activity during the Weichselian glaciation (Toruń Basin, Poland). Geologos 19: 2546.
Weckwerth, P., Przegiętka, K.R., Chruścińska, A. & Pisarska-Jamroży, M., 2013. The relation between optical bleaching and sedimentological features of fluvial deposits in the Toruń Basin (Poland). Geological Quarterly 57: 3144.
Widera, M., 2007. Litostratygrafia i paleotektonika kenozoiku podplejstoceńskiego Wielkopolski (Lithostratigraphy and palaeotectonics of the sub-Pleistocene Cenozoic of Wielkopolska). Seria Geologia 18, Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM (Poznań): 224 pp.
Woronko, B., Rychel, J., Karasiewicz, M.K., Ber, A., Krzywicki, T., Marks, L. & Pochocka-Szwarc, K., 2013. Heavy and light minerals as a tool for reconstructing depositional environments: an example from the Jałówka site (northern Podlasie region, NE Poland). Geologos 19: 4766.
Zieliński, T. & Van Loon, A.J., 2002. Present-day sandurs are not representative of the geological record. Sedimentary Geology 152: 15.
Zieliński, T. & Pisarska-Jamroży, M., 2012. Jakie cechy litologiczne warto kodować, a jakie nie? [Which features of deposits should be included in a code and which not?]. Przegląd Geologiczny 60: 387397.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Netherlands Journal of Geosciences
  • ISSN: 0016-7746
  • EISSN: 1573-9708
  • URL: /core/journals/netherlands-journal-of-geosciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 18 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 207 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.