Neotectonic deformation of a Late Weichselian outwash plain by deglaciation-induced fault reactivation of a deep-seated graben structure

Peter B.E. Sandersen, Flemming Jørgensen

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    17 Citations (Scopus)


    The Late Weichselian Tinglev outwash plain in southwestern Denmark slopes gently from east to west, but certain areas of the topography show unusual irregularities. Analysis of LiDAR data reveals a mosaic of smaller areas with pronounced changes in slope magnitude and orientation between neighbouring areas. The outwash plain also features notable changes in elevation across kilometre-long lineaments and areas lying lower and higher than the expected level. The depressions in the area have previously been interpreted as the result of melting dead-ice blocks left by the Late Weichselian ice sheet. However, borehole samples from Lake Tinglev on the outwash plain show that lake sedimentation did not start until the early Holocene (9000 years ago), which is more than 9000 years after the ice sheet had retreated. The topographical irregularities are located above the Tønder Graben structure, and we interpret these as the result of Holocene strike-slip movements along the graben faults resulting in areas of both subsidence and uplift. The deformations of the outwash plain are interpreted as the effect of deglaciation tectonics acting within a limited time frame at the beginning of the Holocene. As the event can be related to stress release from the weight of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet, we expect that other fault zones in northern Europe would be equally prone to reactivation. Tectonic events related to deglaciation would most likely be recurrent, and the stress changes appear to have been able to induce short-lived tectonic instability to areas normally considered tectonically stable. We conclude that this type of tectonics has had a significant impact on topography and sedimentation throughout the Quaternary.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)413-431
    Number of pages19
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

    Programme Area

    • Programme Area 2: Water Resources


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