Articles | Volume 14, issue 5
Biogeosciences, 14, 1261–1283, 2017

Special issue: Climate–carbon–cryosphere interactions in the...

Biogeosciences, 14, 1261–1283, 2017

Research article 15 Mar 2017

Research article | 15 Mar 2017

Yedoma Ice Complex of the Buor Khaya Peninsula (southern Laptev Sea)

Lutz Schirrmeister1, Georg Schwamborn1, Pier Paul Overduin1, Jens Strauss1, Margret C. Fuchs2, Mikhail Grigoriev3, Irina Yakshina4, Janet Rethemeyer5, Elisabeth Dietze6, and Sebastian Wetterich1 Lutz Schirrmeister et al.
  • 1Department of Periglacial Research, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam 14473, Germany
  • 2Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Freiberg 09599, Germany
  • 3Mel'nikov Permafrost Institute, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Yakutsk, 677010, Russia
  • 4Lena Delta Reserve, Tiksi, 678400, Russia
  • 5Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Cologne, Cologne 50674, Germany
  • 6GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section 5.2 Climate Dynamics and Landscape Evolution, Potsdam 14473, Germany

Abstract. The composition of perennially frozen deposits holds information on the palaeo-environment during and following deposition. In this study, we investigate late Pleistocene permafrost at the western coast of the Buor Khaya Peninsula in the south-central Laptev Sea (Siberia), namely the prominent eastern Siberian Yedoma Ice Complex (IC). Two Yedoma IC exposures and one drill core were studied for cryolithological (i.e. ice and sediment features), geochemical, and geochronological parameters. Borehole temperatures were measured for 3 years to capture the current thermal state of permafrost. The studied sequences were composed of ice-oversaturated silts and fine-grained sands with considerable amounts of organic matter (0.2 to 24 wt %). Syngenetic ice wedges intersect the frozen deposits. The deposition of the Yedoma IC, as revealed by radiocarbon dates of sedimentary organic matter, took place between 54.1 and 30.1 kyr BP. Continued Yedoma IC deposition until about 14.7 kyr BP is shown by dates from organic matter preserved in ice-wedge ice. For the lowermost and oldest Yedoma IC part, infrared-stimulated luminescence dates on feldspar show deposition ages between 51.1 ± 4.9 and 44.2 ± 3.6 kyr BP. End-member modelling was applied to grain-size-distribution data to determined sedimentation processes during Yedoma IC formation. Three to five robust end-members were detected within Yedoma IC deposits, which we interpret as different modes of primary and reworked unconfined alluvial slope and fan deposition as well as of localized eolian and fluvial sediment, which is overprinted by in situ frost weathering. The cryolithological inventory of the Yedoma IC preserved on the Buor Khaya Peninsula is closely related to the results of other IC studies, for example, to the west on the Bykovsky Peninsula, where formation time (mainly during the late Pleistocene marine isotope stages (MIS) 3 interstadial) and formation conditions were similar. Local freezing conditions on Buor Khaya, however, differed and created solute-enriched (salty) and isotopically light pore water pointing to a small talik layer and thaw-bulb freezing after deposition. Due to intense coastal erosion, the biogeochemical signature of the studied Yedoma IC represents the terrestrial end-member, and is closely related to organic matter currently being deposited in the marine realm of the Laptev Sea shelf.

Short summary
We investigate late Pleistocene permafrost at the Buor Khaya Peninsula (Laptev Sea, Siberia) for cryolithological, geochemical, and geochronological parameters. The sequences were composed of ice-oversaturated silts and fine-grained sands with 0.2 to 24 wt% of organic matter. The deposition was between 54.1 and 9.7 kyr BP. Due to coastal erosion, the biogeochemical signature of the deposits represents the terrestrial end-member, and is related to organic matter deposited in the marine realm.
Final-revised paper