Skip to main content

Preliminary paleoenvironmental analysis of permafrost deposits at Batagaika megaslump, Yana Uplands, northeast Siberia

  • Julian B. Murton (a1), Mary E. Edwards (a2) (a3), Anatoly V. Lozhkin (a4), Patricia M. Anderson (a5), Grigoriy N. Savvinov (a6), Nadezhda Bakulina (a7), Olesya V. Bondarenko (a8), Marina V. Cherepanova (a8), Petr P. Danilov (a6), Vasiliy Boeskorov (a6), Tomasz Goslar (a9) (a10), Semyon Grigoriev (a11), Stanislav V. Gubin (a12), Julia A. Korzun (a4), Alexei V. Lupachev (a12), Alexei Tikhonov (a13), Valeriya I. Tsygankova (a4), Galina V. Vasilieva (a14) and Oksana G. Zanina (a12)...

A megaslump at Batagaika, in northern Yakutia, exposes a remarkable stratigraphic sequence of permafrost deposits ~50–80 m thick. To determine their potential for answering key questions about Quaternary environmental and climatic change in northeast Siberia, we carried out a reconnaissance study of their cryostratigraphy and paleoecology, supported by four rangefinder 14C ages. The sequence includes two ice complexes separated by a unit of fine sand containing narrow syngenetic ice wedges and multiple paleosols. Overall, the sequence developed as permafrost grew syngenetically through an eolian sand sheet aggrading on a hillslope. Wood remains occur in two forest beds, each associated with a reddened weathering horizon. The lower bed contains high amounts of Larix pollen (>20%), plus small amounts of Picea and Pinus pumila, and is attributed to interglacial conditions. Pollen from the overlying sequence is dominated by herbaceous taxa (~70%–80%) attributed to an open tundra landscape during interstadial climatic conditions. Of three hypothetical age schemes considered, we tentatively attribute much of the Batagaika sequence to Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage (MIS) 3. The upper and lower forest beds may represent a mid–MIS 3 optimum and MIS 5, respectively, although we cannot discount alternative attributions to MIS 5 and 7.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Preliminary paleoenvironmental analysis of permafrost deposits at Batagaika megaslump, Yana Uplands, northeast Siberia
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Preliminary paleoenvironmental analysis of permafrost deposits at Batagaika megaslump, Yana Uplands, northeast Siberia
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Preliminary paleoenvironmental analysis of permafrost deposits at Batagaika megaslump, Yana Uplands, northeast Siberia
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author at: Permafrost Laboratory, Department of Geography, University of Sussex, Brighton BN1 9QJ, United Kingdom. E-mail address: (J.B. Murton).
Hide All
Anderson, P., Andrews, J., Bradley, R., Brubaker, L., Edwards, M., Finney, B., Grootes, P., et al., (Eds.), 1994. Research Protocols for PALE: Paleoclimates of Arctic Lakes and Estuaries. Past Global Changes (PAGES) Workshop Report Series 94-1. PAGES Core Project Office, Bern, Switzerland.
Andreev, A.A., Grosse, G., Schirrmeister, L., Kuzmina, S.A., Novenko, E. Yu, ., Bobrov, A.A., Tarasov, P.E., et al., 2004. Late Saalian and Eemian palaeoenvironmental history of the Bol’shoy Lyakhovsky Island (Laptev Sea region, Arctic Siberia). Boreas 33, 319348.
Andreev, A.A., Grosse, G., Schirrmeister, L., Kuznetsova, T.V., Kuzmina, S.A., Bobrov, A.A., Tarasov, P.E., et al., 2009. Weichselian and Holocene palaeoenvironmental history of the Bol’shoy Lyakhovsky Island, New Siberian Archipelago, Arctic Siberia. Boreas 38, 72110.
Andreev, A.A., Schirrmeister, L., Siegert, C., Bobrov, A.A., Demske, D., Seiffert, D., Hubberten, H.-W., 2002. Paleoenvironmental changes in northeastern Siberia during the late Quaternary – evidence from pollen records of the Bykovsky Peninsula. Polarforschung 70, 1325.
Andreev, A.A., Tarasov, P.S., Wennrich, V., Melles, M., 2016. Millennial-scale vegetation changes in the north-eastern Russian Arctic during the Pliocene/Pleistocene transition (2.7–2.5 Ma) inferred from the pollen record of Lake El’gygytgyn. Quaternary Science Reviews 147, 245258.
Andreev, V.N., (Ed.), 1980. Vegetation and Soils of Subarctic Tundra. [In Russian.] Siberian Branch Yakutia Subdivision, Biological Institute, USSR Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia.
Arkhangelov, A.A., Mikhalev, D.V., Nikolaev, V.I., 1996. About early epochs of permafrost formation in northern Yakutia and age of ancient relicts of underground glaciation. [In Russian.] In: Velichko, A.A., Arkhangelov, A.A., Borisova, O.K., Gribchenko, Yu.N., Drenova, A.N., Zelikson, E.M., Kurenkova, E.N., et al., (Eds.), History of Permafrost Regions and Periglacial Zones of Northern Eurasia and Conditions of Ancient Man Distribution, Institute of Geography, Moscow, pp. 102109.
Ashastina, K., Schirrmeister, L., Diekmann, B., Kienast, F., 2016. The Batagai outcrop – window into the past of North Yakutia’s most continental part. In: Günther, F., Morgenstern, A. (Eds.), XI International Conference on Permafrost – Book of Abstracts, 20–24 June 2016, Potsdam, Germany. Bibliothek Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein, Potsdam, Germany, p. 575.
Blokhina, N.I., Bondarenko, O.V., 2016. Fossil wood of Pinus priamurensis s. nov. (Pinaceae) from the Miocene deposits of the Erkovetskii Brown coal field, Amur region. Paleontological Journal 50, 311318.
Bradley, R.S., 2015. Paleoclimatology: Reconstructing Climates of the Quaternary. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Bullock, P., Fedoroff, N., Jongerius, A., Stoops, G., Tursina, T., Babel, U., 1985. Handbook for Soil Thin Section Description. Waine Research, Wolverhampton, UK.
Czerepanov, S.K., 1995. Vascular Plants of Russia and Adjacent States (the former USSR). Cambridge University Press, New York.
Dansgaard, W., Johnsen, S.J., Clausen, H.B., Dahl-Jensen, D., Gun-destrup, N.S., Hammer, C.U., Hvidberg, C.S., et al., 1993. Evidence for general instability of past climate from a 250 kyr ice core. Nature 364, 218219.
Gilichinsky, D.A., Nolte, E., Basilyan, A.E., Beer, J., Blinov, A.V., Lazarev, V.E., Kholodov, A.L., et al., 2007. Dating of syngenetic ice wedges in permafrost with 36Cl. Quaternary Science Reviews 26, 15471556.
Glushkova, O.Yu., 2011. Late Pleistocene glaciations in North-East Asia. In: Ehlers, J., Gibbard, P.L., Hughes, P.D. (Eds.), Quaternary Glaciations - Extent and Chronology: A Closer Look. Developments in Quaternary Science 15. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp. 865875.
Günther, F., Grosse, G., Wetterich, S., Jones, B.M., Kunitsky, V.V., Kienast, F., Schirrmeister, L., 2015. The Batagay mega thaw slump, Yana Uplands, Yakutia, Russia: permafrost thaw dynamics on decadal time scale. PAST Gateways - Palaeo-Arctic Spatial and Temporal Gateways - Third International Conference and Workshop, Potsdam, Germany, 18–22 May 2015, pp. 45–46.
Haesaerts, P., Chekha, V.P., Damblon, F., Drozdov, N.I., Orlova, L.A., Van der Plicht, J., 2005. The loess-palaeosol succession of Kurtak (Yenisei basin, Siberia): a reference record from the Karga Stage (MIS 3). Quaternaire 16, 324.
Hopkins, D.M., Matthews, J.V. Jr., Schweger, C.E., Young, S.B. (Eds.), 1982. Paleoecology of Beringia. Academic Press, New York.
Huntley, B., Alfano, M.J., Allen, J.R.M., Pollard, D., Tzedakis, P.C., de Beaulieu, J.L., Gruger, E., 2003. European vegetation during Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage-3. Quaternary Research 59, 195212.
Ivanova, R.N., 2003. Seasonal thawing of soils in the Yana River valley, northern Yakutia. In: Phillips, M., Springman, S.M., Arenson, L.U. (Eds.), Permafrost, Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Permafrost, 21–25 July 2003, Zurich, Switzerland. A.A. Balkema, Lisse, the Netherlands, vol. 1, pp. 479–482.
Kienast, F., Ashastina, K., Rudaya, N., Wesche, K., 2016. Last interglacial versus last cold stage: palaeovegetation in North Yakutia’s most continental part recorded in the Batagay permafrost sequence. In: Günther, F., Morgenstern, A. (Eds.), XI International Conference on Permafrost – Book of Abstracts, 20–24 June 2016, Potsdam, Germany. Bibliothek Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein, Potsdam, Germany, pp. 504–505.
Kienast, F., Schirrmeister, L., Seigart, C., Tarasov, P., 2005. Paleobotanical evidence for warm summers in the East Siberian Arctic during the last cold stage. Quaternary Research 63, 283300.
Kienast, F., Wetterich, S., Kuzmina, S., Schirrmeister, L., Andreev, A.A., Tarasov, P., Nazarova, L., Kossler, A., Frolova, L., Kunitsky, V.V., 2011. Paleontological records indicate the occurrence of open woodlands in a dry inland climate at the present-day Arctic coast in western Beringia during the Last Interglacial. Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 2134–2159.
Kind, N.V., 1974. Late Quaternary Geochronology According to Isotope Data. [In Russian.] Transactions Vol. 257. Nauka, Moscow (in Russian).
Konishchev, V.N., 1973. Origin of the icy siltstones of northern Yakutia. In: Sanger, F.J., Hyde, P.J. (Eds.), USSR Contribution, Permafrost Second International Conference, 13–28 July 1973, Yakutsk, USSR. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, pp. 823–824.
Konishchev, V.N., Rogov, V.V., 1993. Investigations of cryogenic weathering in Europe and Northern Asia. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 4, 4964.
Kozhevnikov, Yu.P., 1981. Ecology-floristic changes in the middle part of the Anadyr River basin. [In Russian.] In: Mazurenko, M.T. (Ed.), Biology of Plants and Flora of North of the Far East. Institute of Biological Problems of the North, Far East Branch, USSR Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, Russia, pp. 65–78.
Kunitsky, V.V., Syromyatnikov, I.I., Schirrmeister, L., Skachkov, Y.B., Grosse, G., Wetterich, S., Grigoriev, M.N., 2013. Ice-rich permafrost and thermal denudation in the Batagay area – Yana Upland, East Siberia. Kriosfera Zemli (Earth’s Cryosphere) 17, 5668.
Lozhkin, A.V., Anderson, P.M., 1995. The last interglaciation in northeast Siberia. Quaternary Research 43, 147158.
Lozhkin, A.V., Anderson, P.M., 2011. Forest or no forest: implications of the vegetation record for climatic stability in western Beringia during Oxygen Isotope Stage 3. Quaternary Science Reviews 30, 21602181.
Lozhkin, A.V., Anderson, P.M., Matrosova, T.V., Minyuk, P.S., 2007. The pollen record from El’gygytgyn Lake: implications for vegetation and climate histories of northern Chukotka since the late Middle Pleistocene. Journal of Paleolimnology 37, 135153.
Lozhkin, A.V., Anderson, P.M., Minyuk, P.S., Nedorubova, E.Yu., 2016. Changes in biocenoses in the eastern Arctic from 374–917 thousand years ago (palynological data from Lake Elʼgygytgyn). [In Russian.] Bulletin of the Northeast Science Center of Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences Magadan 2, 3–9.
Melles, M., Brigham-Grette, J., Minyuk, P.S., Nowaczyk, N.R., Wennrich, V., DeConto, R.M., Anderson, P.M., et al., 2012. 2.8 million years of Arctic climate change from Lake El’gygytgyn, NE Russia. Science 337, 315320.
Murton, J., Edwards, M., Anderson, P, Cherepanova, M., Goslar, T., Gubin, S., Korzun, J., et al., 2016. Reconnaissance palaeoenvironmental study of 90 m of permafrost deposits at Batagaika megaslump, Yana Uplands, northern Siberia. In: Günther, F., Morgenstern, A. (Eds.), XI International Conference on Permafrost – Book of Abstracts, 20–24 June 2016, Potsdam, Germany. Bibliothek Wissenschaftspark Albert Einstein, Potsdam, Germany, p. 589.
Murton, J.B., Goslar, T., Edwards, M.E., Bateman, M.D., Danilov, P.P., Savvinov, G.N., Gubin, S.V., et al., 2015. Palaeoenvironmental interpretation of yedoma silt (Ice Complex) deposition as cold-climate loess, Duvanny Yar, northeast Siberia. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 26, 208288.
Nickling, W.G., 1978. Eolian sediment transport during dust storms: Slims River Valley, Yukon Territory. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 15, 10691084.
Nikolskiy, P.A., Basilyan, A.E., 2004. The main Quaternary cross section of the Yana-Indigirka lowland. [In Russian.] In: Late Pleistocene and Holocene of Siberian Arctic: Paleogeography, Geology and Archeology. GEOS, Moscow, pp. 27–34.
Novgorodov, G.P., Grigorev, S.E., Cheprasov, M.Y., 2013. Prospective location of the mammoth fauna in the river basin Yana. [In Russian.] International Journal of Applied and Fundamental Research 8, 255–259.
Palkopoulou, E., Baca, M., Abramson, N.I., Sablin, M., Socha, P., Nadachowski, A., Prost, S., et al., 2016. Synchronous genetic turnovers across western Eurasia in Late Pleistocene collared lemmings. Global Change Biology 22, 17101721.
Péwé, T.L., Berger, G.W., Westgate, J.A., Brown, P.M., Leavitt, S.W., 1997. Eva Interglaciation Forest Bed, unglaciated central Alaska: global warming 125,000 years ago. Geological Society of America Special Paper 319, 155.
Pigati, J.S., Quade, J., Wilson, J., Jull, A.J.T., Lifton, N.A., 2007. Development of low-background vacuum extraction and graphitization systems for 14C dating of old (40–60 ka) samples. Quaternary International 166, 414.
Porter, T.J., Froese, D.G., Feakins, S.J., Bindeman, I.N., Mahony, M.E., Pautler, B.G., Reichart, G-J., Sanborn, P.T., Simpson, M.J., Weijers, J.W.H., 2016. Multiple water isotope proxy reconstruction of extremely low last glacial temperatures in eastern Beringia (western Arctic). Quaternary Science Reviews 137, 113125.
Proshkina-Lavrenko, A.I., Glezer, Z.I., Makarova, I.V. (Eds.), 1974. Diatomovye vodorosli SSSR: iskopaemye i sovremennye [Diatoms of the USSR: Fossil and Modern]. Vol. 1. Nauka, Leningrad.
Reimer, P.J., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, J.W., Blackwell, P.G., Bronk Ramsey, C., Buck, C.E., et al., 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55, 18691887.
Reyes, A.V., Froese, D.G., Jensen, B.J.L., 2010. Permafrost response to last interglacial warming: field evidence from non-glaciated Yukon and Alaska. Quaternary Science Reviews 29, 32563274.
Rohling, E.J., Mayewski, P.A., Challenor, P., 2003. On the timing and mechanism of millennial-scale climate variability during the last glacial cycle. Climate Dynamics 20, 257267.
Schirrmeister, L., Oezen, D., Geyh, M.A., 2002. 230Th/U dating of frozen peat, Bol’shoy Lyakhovsky Island (northern Siberia). Quaternary Research 57, 253258.
Sher, A.V., 1991. Problems of the last interglacial in arctic Siberia. Quaternary International 11/12, 215222.
Sher, A.V., 1997. Yedoma as a store of paleoenvironmental records in Beringida. In: Elias, S., Brigham-Grette, J. (Eds.), Beringia Paleoenvironmental Workshop September 1997. Ohana Productions, Nepean, ON, Canada, pp. 9294.
Sher, A., Kuzmina, S., Kuznetsova, T., 2002. Pleistocene climate drivers of the east Siberian shelf land. Terra Nostra 3, 101102.
Sher, A.V., Kuzmina, S.A., Kuznetsova, T.V., Sulershitsky, L.D., 2005. New insights into the Weichselian environment and climate of the East Siberian Arctic derived from fossil insects, plants and mammals. Quaternary Science Reviews 24, 533569.
Shilo, N.A., Baranova, Yu.P., Siderov, A.A., Lozhkin, A.V., 1987. Resolution: Interdisciplinary Stratigraphic Congress for Quaternary Systems of Eastern USSR. [In Russian.] Russian Ministry of Geology, USSR Academy of Sciences, Far East Branch, Magadan, Russia.
Siegert, C., Schirrmeister, L., Babiy, O., 2002. The sedimentological, mineralogical and geochemical composition of Late Pleistocene deposits from the Ice Complex on the Bykovsky Peninsula, northern Siberia. Polarforschung 70, 311.
Stauch, G., Lehmkuhl, F., 2010. Quaternary glaciations in the Verkhoyansk Mountains, northeast Siberia. Quaternary Research 74, 145155.
Stoops, G., Jongerius, A., 1975. Proposals for a micromorphological classification of soil material. I. A classification of the related distributions of fine and coarse particles. Geoderma 13, 189199.
Stoops, G., Marcelino, V., Mees, F. (Eds.), 2010. Interpretation of Micromorphological Features of Soils and Regoliths. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
Tumskoy, V.E., 2012. Peculiarities of cryolithogenesis in northern Yakutia from the Middle Neopleistocene to the Holocene. [In Russian.] Earth’s Cryosphere 16, 12–21.
Vdovina, L.G., 2002. State Geological Map of Russian Federation, 1:200 000. 2nd ed. A.P. Karpinsky Russian Geological Research Institute, St. Petersburg.
Voelker, A.H.L., Workshop participants. 2002. Global distribution of centennial-scale records for Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3: a database. Quaternary Science Reviews 21, 11851212.
Wetterich, S., Schirrmeister, L., Andreev, A.A., Pudenz, M., Plessen, B., Meyer, H., Kunitsky, V.V., 2009. Eemian and Late Glacial/Holocene palaeoenvironmental records from permafrost sequences at the Dmitry Laptev Strait (NE Siberia, Russia). Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 279, 7395.
Wetterich, S., Tumskoy, V., Rudaya, N., Andreev, A.A., Opel, T., Meyer, H., Schirrmeister, L., 2014. Ice Complex formation in arctic East Siberia during the MIS3 Interstadial. Quaternary Science Reviews 84, 3955.
Wetterich, S., Tumskoy, V., Rudaya, N., Kuznetsov, V., Maksimov, F., Opel, T., Meyer, H., Andreev, A.A., Schirrmeister, L., 2016. Ice Complex permafrost of MIS5 age in the Dmitry Laptev Strait coastal region (East Siberian Arctic). Quaternary Science Reviews 147, 298311.
Wolfe, S.A., 2013. Cold-climate aeolian environments. In: Lancaster, N., Sherman, D.J., Baas, A.C.W. (Eds.), Treatise on Geomorphology. Vol. 11, Aeolian Geomorphology. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp. 375–394.
Recommend this journal

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

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Murton supplementary material
Supplementary Figures

 Word (44.5 MB)
44.5 MB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed