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


A. Müller and J. Knies

First Authors affiliation

Geological Survey of Norway, Postboks 6315 Sluppen, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

Natural History Museum of London, London SW7 5BD, UK


Climate of the Past

9, 2615-2630, 2013

Special Issue


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 characterisation 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 Egdeøya. The results imply that under modern (interglacial) conditions IRD deposition along the western Spitsbergen margin is mainly governed by the East Svalbard 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.


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