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Title: Glaciers, climate and the '8.2ka event' in Iceland
Author: Sugden, Lindsay
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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The “8.2ka event” is the largest recorded climatic reversal in the Holocene. The research combines new high resolution empirical evidence with ice sheet modelling to assess the extent and nature of glacial activity at 8.2ka. New geomorphic evidence is presented for the Early Holocene in the Borgarfjörour Eystri region of northeast Iceland. In total, thirteen landform ‘suites’ are identified which are indicative primarily of glacial activity, but also contain evidence for mass-movement events. Landform suites are backed by cliffs or scree slopes, and consist, in the upper parts, of high-relief ridges and terraces interpreted as landslide deposits. The middle and lower parts are made up of longitudinal ridges and hummocky terrain, with clear terminal and lateral moraines defining former glacier margins. Phases of glacial and mass-movement activity which generated these landforms are Holocene in age, dated to between 7600-4000 Cal. Yrs. B.P. It is suggested that glacial advances represent the primary response to the 8.2ka cooling event, while the mass-movement events which occurred later were a result of paraglacial slope instabilities, and thus can be seen as a secondary response. Ice sheet modelling experiments suggest that extreme climatic conditions, involving a temperature drop of as much as 7°C, would have been necessary to initiate glaciers in the locations where Holocene activity has been observed. It is suggested that abundant debris supplies generated from the friable exposures of rhyolitic bedrock, would have inhibited the ablation of glacier ice, so that cooling may not have had to be as much as 7°C to promote and preserve the recorded glacial activity. This study presents evidence for a time-transgressive glacial and geomorphic response to the 8.2ka event in Iceland, providing a site-specific example of regional environmental response to climate change, and promoting understanding of potential response mechanisms to future rapid climate change events.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available