Ice Complex chronologies and environments in western Beringia

Sebastian.Wetterich [ at ]


Polygon tundra with tundra-steppe vegetation cover and growing syngenetic ice-wedge nets evolved during stadial and interstadial periods of the late Quaternary in non-glaciated Beringia. The depositional relict of such environments is called Ice Complex (IC; ледовый комплекс [ledovyi kompleks] in Russian) permafrost. The IC archives preserve information of past periglacial and climate landscape conditions of mid- and late Pleistocene Beringian environments. In certain locations of the East Siberian Arctic, IC remnants of different age and extent are known. While using IC deposits as archives of palaeo-landscape and palaeo-environmental dynamics, summer and winter conditions over large time-scales are detectable. Commonly applied summer proxy include palaeontological proxy such as pollen, plant macrofossils, insect fossils and, most prominent, mammal fossils of the Mammoth fauna, while geochemical and stable isotope properties of ground ice allow for insights into freezing and winter conditions. IC chronologies are challenging because the deposition and post-sedimentary preservation of ice-rich permafrost are triggered by palaeo-relief settings and related processes as well as by the intensity of thermokarst. This complicates geochronological interpretations, as representatives of consecutive late Quaternary periods may be found at laterally different positions and altitudes in coastal and riverine exposures. Shifts between permafrost aggradation and degradation over time frequently cause gaps in sequences. Furthermore, numerical dating of IC mainly includes different approaches such as radiocarbon (14C) dating of organic material, infrared and optically-stimulated luminescence (IRSL, OSL) dating on feldspar and quartz grains, radioisotope disequilibria of thorium-230 to uranium-234 (230Th/U) dating of peat, and chlorine-36 to chloride ratios (36Cl/Cl) of ground ice. The application of various geochronologic methods to cover the age intervals of certain IC deposits implies that different permafrost components (organic, mineralic, ice) as well as different geochemical and physical properties have to be employed. At the southern coast of Bol'shoy Lyakhovsky Island at least four distinct IC strata were previously described and dated, which cover among the longest time interval of late Quaternary terrestrial permafrost deposition in East Siberia; starting about 200 kyr ago. With this contribution we seek to present and discuss our current understanding of IC chronologies preserved on the New Siberian Archipelago including MIS2 Yedoma (Sartan) IC, MIS3 Yedoma (Molotkov) IC, MIS5 Buchchagy IC, and MIS7a Yukagir IC. Geocryological and palaeo-environmental proxy data highlight past periglacial landscape and deposition processes to deduce past climate conditions and Beringian palaeo-ecological settings and dynamics.

Item Type
Conference (Poster)
Primary Division
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Publication Status
Event Details
XI. International Conference On Permafrost, 20 Jun 2016 - 24 Jun 2016, Potsdam.
Eprint ID
DOI 10.2312/GFZ.LIS.2016.001

Cite as
Wetterich, S. , Tumskoy, V. , Rudaya, N. , Andreev, A. , Kuznetsov, V. , Fuchs, M. C. , Schwamborn, G. , Opel, T. , Meyer, H. and Schirrmeister, L. (2016): Ice Complex chronologies and environments in western Beringia , XI. International Conference On Permafrost, Potsdam, 20 June 2016 - 24 June 2016 . doi: 10.2312/GFZ.LIS.2016.001

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