Geomorphological evidence for an ongoing transgression on northwestern Svalbard

University essay from Lunds universitet/Geologiska institutionen

Abstract: Rise and fall of the global sea level during Pleistocene and Holocene are mainly caused by glacio-isostatic and glacio-eustatic factors directly linked to the cyclic increase and decrease of the Earth’s ice sheets. Apart from the dominating glacio-isostatic and glacio-eustatic factors, several other components have influenced the global sea level, which complicates the regional sea level curves of the world. One place with such a complicated relative sea level curve is northwestern Svalbard, which was covered by ice sheets during the Weichselian glaciations and started to emerge when it was deglaciated around 13 14C ka BP. Since the 1950s numerous authors have argued that there is an ongoing transgression taking place at northwestern Svalbard based upon sedimentary and geomorphological ground and the dating of whale bones. The development of geomorphological features such as lagoons, estuaries and deltas forming in protected areas, are all linked to fluctuations in sea level and can be used to determine whether or not a sea level rise is taking place. A combined map, satellite image and aerial photo analysis has been done to determine whether or not there is an ongoing transgression taking place at northwestern Svalbard and if the coastline can be considered a representative transgressive coast. The study supports the hypothesis of a slow, ongoing transgression but does not offer conclusive evidence for the same. Hence the coastline cannot be considered a typical example of a transgressive coast.

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