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Ground ice and slope sediments archiving late Quaternary paleoenvironment and paleoclimate signals at the margins of El'gygytgyn Impact Crater, NE Siberia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 August 2006

Georg Schwamborn*
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
Hanno Meyer
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
Grigory Fedorov
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Bering Street, 199397 St. Petersburg, Russia
Lutz Schirrmeister
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
Hans-W. Hubberten
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A43, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
Corresponding author. Fax: +49 331 288 2162/37. E-mail (G. Schwamborn).


An accumulation terrace close to the El'gygytgyn Impact Crater in northeastern Siberia contains stratigraphic and periglacial evidence of the paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic history and permafrost dynamics during late Quaternary time. A succession of paleo active-layer deposits that mirror environmental changes records periods favorable for the establishment and growth of ice-wedge polygonal networks and sediment variations. These two elements of the periglacial landscape serve as complementary paleoenvironmental archives that can be traced back to ∼ 14,000 cal yr BP. The slope sediments and the ground ice contained therein have prominent relative maxima and minima in properties (grain size, total organic content, oxygen isotopes). They document a regional early Holocene thermal maximum at about 9000 cal yr BP, followed by a transition to slightly cooler conditions, and a subsequent transition to slightly warmer conditions after about 4000 cal yr BP. Results from sedimentary analysis resemble morphological and geochemical (oxygen and hydrogen isotopes) results from ice wedge studies, in which successive generations of ice-wedge polygonal networks record warmer winters in late Holocene time. Moreover, peaks of light soluble cation contents and quartz-grain surface textures reveal distinct traces of cryogenic weathering. We propose a conclusive sedimentation model illustrating terrace formation in a permafrost terrain.

Research Article
University of Washington

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