High-resolution shallow seismic data, sediment core information, radiocarbon dating and sequence stratigraphy have been used to interpret the late glacial to early Holocene geological evolution of Hesselø Bay in the southern Kattegat, Denmark. A reconstruction of the early Holocene coastal environment and a description of coastal processes associated with a river outlet into the bay are presented. Weichselian glacial deposits form the lowermost interpreted unit, covered by late glacial (LG) and postglacial (PG, Holocene) sediments. A funnel-shaped estuary existed at the mouth of channels in the period 10.3–9.2 cal. ka BP; the channels drained water from south to north. The early PG is characterised by estuarine and coastal deposits. The early Holocene bars that developed in the estuary are preserved as morphological features on the present-day seabed, possibly as a result of rapid relative sea-level rise. The estuary existed simultaneously with the occurrence and drainage of the Ancylus Lake. The drainage of this lake occurred through the Dana River (palaeo-Great Belt channel) into the southern Kattegat and then into the study area. The level of the Ancylus Lake in the Baltic Sea region dropped significantly at about 10.2 cal. ka BP at the same time as the estuary developed in the Kattegat region. One outcome of the present study is an enhanced understanding of the Ancylus Lake drainage path. No evidence of major erosion is seen, which indicates non-catastrophic continuous water flow from the south without major drainage events of the Ancylus Lake to the southern Kattegat. During the Littorina transgression, coastal estuarine conditions characterized the Hesselø Bay area where elongated ridges formed a bar system. As the Littorina transgression continued, back-stepping of the bar system and coastline occurred. When the transgression breached the Great Belt threshold, flooding caused major erosion throughout the study area.
- Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate