Marine ice sheets of Pleistocene age on the East Siberian Continental Margin

Frank.Niessen [ at ]


Based on swath bathymetry, sediment echosounding, seismic profiling and sediment coring we present results of the RV „Polarstern“ cruise ARK-XIII/3 (2008) and RV "Araon" cruise ARA02B (2012), which investigated an area between the Chukchi Borderland and the East Siberian Sea between 165°W and 170°E. At the southern end of the Mendeleev Ridge, close to the Chukchi and East Siberian shelves, evidence is found for the existence of Pleistocene ice sheets/ice shelves, which have grounded several times in up to 1200 m present water depth. We found mega-scale glacial lineations associated with deposition of glaciogenic wedges and debris-flow deposits indicative of sub-glacial erosion and deposition close to the former grounding lines. Glacially lineated areas are associated with large-scale erosion, accentuated by a conspicuous truncation of pre-glacial strata typically capped with mostly thin layers of diamicton draped by pelagic sediments. Our tentative age model suggests that the youngest and shallowest grounding event of an ice sheet should be within Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3. The oldest and deepest event predates MIS 6. According to our results, ice sheets of more than one km in thickness continued onto, and likely centered over, the East Siberian Shelf. They were possibly linked to previously suggested ice sheets on the Chukchi Borderland and the New Siberian Islands. We propose that the ice sheets extended northward as thick ice shelves, which grounded on the Mendeleev Ridge to an area up to 78°N within MIS 5 and/or earlier. These results have important implication for the former distribution of thick ice masses in the Arctic Ocean during the Pleistocene. They are relevant for global sea-level variations, albedo, ocean-atmosphere heat exchange, freshwater export from the Arctic Ocean at glacial terminations and the formation of submarine permafrost. The existence of km-thick Pleistocene ice sheets in the western Arctic Ocean during glacial times predating that of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) also implies significantly different atmospheric circulation patterns, in particular availability and distribution of moisture during pre-LGM glaciations.

Item Type
Conference (Invited talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Publication Status
Event Details
AGU Fall Meeting, 08 Dec 2013 - 13 Dec 2013.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Niessen, F. , Hong, J. K. , Hegewald, A. , Matthiessen, J. , Stein, R. , Kim, H. , Kim, S. , Jensen, L. , Jokat, W. , Nam, S. I. and Kang, S. H. (2013): Marine ice sheets of Pleistocene age on the East Siberian Continental Margin , AGU Fall Meeting, 8 December 2013 - 13 December 2013 .

[thumbnail of Niessen_et_al_AGU_Fall_Abstract_2013.pdf]

Download (52kB) | Preview
Cite this document as:

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email

Geographical region

Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item