Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
Clim. Past, 9, 2615–2630, 2013

Special issue: The changing Arctic and Subarctic environment: proxy- and...

Clim. Past, 9, 2615–2630, 2013

Research article 20 Nov 2013

Research article | 20 Nov 2013

Trace elements and cathodoluminescence of detrital quartz in Arctic marine sediments – a new ice-rafted debris provenance proxy

A. Müller1,2 and J. Knies1,3 A. Müller and J. Knies
  • 1Geological Survey of Norway, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
  • 2Natural History Museum of London, London SW7 5BD, UK
  • 3Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. The records of ice-rafted debris (IRD) provenance in the North Atlantic–Barents Sea allow the reconstruction of the spatial and temporal changes of ice-flow drainage patterns during glacial and deglacial periods. In this study a new approach to characterization of the provenance of detrital quartz grains in the fraction > 500 μm of marine sediments offshore of Spitsbergen is introduced, utilizing scanning electron microscope backscattered electron and cathodoluminescence (CL) imaging, combined with laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Based on their micro-inclusions, CL and trace element characteristics, the investigated IRD grains can be classified into five distinct populations. Three of the populations are indicative of potential IRD provenance provinces in the Storfjord area including Barentsøya and Edgeøya. The results imply that under modern (interglacial) conditions IRD deposition along the western Spitsbergen margin is mainly governed by the East Spitsbergen Current controlling the ice-drift pattern. The presence of detrital quartz from local provinces, however, indicates that variations in IRD supply from western Spitsbergen may be quantified as well. In this pilot study it is demonstrated that this new approach applied on Arctic continental margin sediments bears a considerable potential for the definition of the sources of IRD and thus of spatial/temporal changes in ice-flow drainage patterns during glacial/interglacial cycles.