Severnaya Zemlya, Arctic Russia: a nucleation area for Kara Sea ice sheets during the Middle to Late Quaternary
Quaternary glacial stratigraphy and relative sea-level changes reveal at least four expansions of the Kara Sea ice sheet over the Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago at 79°N in the Russian Arctic, as indicated from tills interbedded with marine sediments, exposed in stratigraphic superposition, and from raised-beach sequences that occur at altitudes up to 140 m a.s.l. Chronologic control is provided by AMS 14C, electron-spin resonance, green-stimulated luminescence, and aspartic-acid geochronology. Major glaciations followed by deglaciation and marine inundation occurred during MIS 10-9, MIS 8-7, MIS 6-5e and MIS 5d-3. The MIS 6-5e event, associated with the high marine limit, implies ice-sheet thickness of >2000 m only 200 km from the deep Arctic Ocean, consistent with published evidence of ice grounding at ∼1000 m water depth in the central Arctic Ocean. Till fabrics and glacial tectonics record repeated expansions of local ice caps exclusively, suggesting wet-based ice cap advance followed by cold-based regional ice-sheet expansion. Local ice caps over highland sites along the perimeter of the shallow Kara Sea, including the Byrranga Mountains, appear to have repeatedly fostered initiation of a large Kara Sea ice sheet, with exception of the Last Glacial Maximum (MIS 2), when Kara Sea ice did not impact Severnaya Zemlya and barely graced northernmost Taymyr Peninsula.