Late Quaternary history of Washington Land, North Greenland

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During the last glacial stage, Washington Land in western North Greenland was probably completely inundated by the Greenland Ice Sheet. The oldest shell dates from raised marine deposits that provide minimum ages for the last deglaciation are 9300 cal. yr BP (northern Washington Land) and 7600 cal. yr BP (SW Washington Land). These dates indicate that Washington Land, which borders the central part of Nares Strait separating Greenland from Ellesmere Island in Canada, did not become free of glacier ice until well into the Holocene. The elevation of the marine limit falls from 110 m a.s.l. in the north to 60 m a.s.l. in the southwest. The recession was followed by readvance of glaciers in the late Holocene, and the youngest shell date from Neoglacial lateral moraines north of Humboldt Gletscher is 600 cal. yr BP. Since the Neoglacial maximum, probably around 100 years ago, glaciers have receded. The Holocene marine assemblages comprise a few southern extralimital records, notably of Chlamys islandica dated to 7300 cal. yr BP. Musk ox and reindeer disappeared from Washington Land recently, perhaps in connection with the cold period that culminated about 100 years ago.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-272
Number of pages13
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2002

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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