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Geophysical reconstruction of the late Holocene proximal proglacial landsystem at Skeiðarársandur, southeast Iceland

Harrison, Devin; Ross, Neil; Russell, Andrew J.; Jones, Stuart J.

Geophysical reconstruction of the late Holocene proximal proglacial landsystem at Skeiðarársandur, southeast Iceland Thumbnail


Devin Harrison

Neil Ross

Andrew J. Russell


Sandur plains are extensive sedimentary bodies formed in proglacial settings by glaciofluvial processes. Icelandic sandar have been hypothesised to be comprised of thick alluvial successions that provide critical insight into the processes that contributed to their formation and evolution. However, to-date, most sandar research has focused on the analysis of sedimentary successions associated to topographically-confined and small-scale systems. These, however, do not capture the variety or scale of processes that influence sandar architecture. Therefore, detailed subsurface analysis of large-scale and unconfined sandar is vital to understand how these systems respond to fundamental drivers, such as: (i) glacier oscillations, and (ii) episodic sediment flux from glacier outburst floods (aka. jökulhlaups). We report an extensive, low-frequency (40 & 100 MHz) ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey of the ice-proximal component of a large-scale (~13km2) active sandur in southeast Iceland. A bright and continuous reflection (PR1) is identified within all radargrams and provides a boundary between pre-LIA and LIA to present-day sedimentation. GPR data reveals a ~50 m thick ice-proximal sediment wedge that is attributed to jökulhlaup and surge-related glaciofluvial activity during the Little Ice Age (LIA). An approximate rate of deposition of 0.2–0.65 m a-1 has been calculated for the sediment wedge above PR1. Furthermore, we propose an extensive, sandur-wide, pre-LIA ice marginal limit of Skeiðarárökull, southeast Iceland, based on observations reported here and in previous work.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 24, 2023
Online Publication Date Mar 29, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Apr 12, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 18, 2023
Journal Journal of Quaternary Science
Print ISSN 0267-8179
Electronic ISSN 1099-1417
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL


Published Journal Article (Advance online version) (7 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
Advance online version This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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