Ice-rafted debris (IRD)

Antoon Kuijpers, Paul Knutz, Matthias Moros

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

1 Citation (Scopus)


IRD has been found to be widely distributed in the entire subpolar North Atlantic. Glacial sedimentary records from this region display discrete IRD layers at time intervals of about 7,000 years named “Heinrich” layers that witness large-scale iceberg surging of the North American Laurentide Ice Sheet. This conclusion was made based on the lithology of the IRD involved, showing, among others, a large contribution of detrital dolomitic carbonate derived from the sedimentary rocks around Hudson Bay and Strait. Mineral studies have provided also evidence for IRD originating from European and Greenland glaciers. Asynchronous deposition of IRD from these various sources suggests a different stability regime of ice sheets west and east of the North Atlantic. Although several mechanisms may have played a role, increasing evidence arises which demonstrates that (sub)surface ocean warming and associated bottom melting of floating glaciers and ice shelves have been an important mechanism triggering large-scale iceberg calving (“Heinrich”) events, both under glacial climate and under present-day warming conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Marine Geosciences
EditorsJan Harff, Martin Meschede, Sven Petersen, Jörn Thiede
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

SeriesEncyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series
VolumePart 2

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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