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 depositsthat 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.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL6-Earth climate variability since the Pliocene