Northeastern Svalbard hosts exceptionally well-preserved Neoproterozoic sediments. The glaciogenic Petrovbreen Member and Wilsonbreen Formation (Fm.) of the Polarisbreen Group crop out in a narrow, Caledonian-aged fold-and-thrust belt spanning from Olav V Land on Spitsbergen in the south to western Nordaustlandet in the north. The older Petrovbreen Member is thin (0–52 m) and patchily preserved, comprising mainly poorly stratified, dolomite-matrix diamictite likely deposited in a marine setting. The basal contact of the Petrovbreen Member erosionally truncates the upper Russøya Member, which preserves a large (12‰) negative C-isotope anomaly. The Petrovbreen Member is overlain by 200 m of dark, monotonous shales of the MacDonaldryggen Member, followed by cherty dolomite grainstone and microbiolamintes of the Slangen Member. The upper Slangen Member is an exposure surface in the southern part of the belt, but in northern Spitsbergen and on Nordaustlandet is transitional into sands of the northward-thickening Bråvika Member. The Wilsonbreen Fm. is typically 100–150 m thick and consists mostly of massively to poorly stratified diamictite, with subordinate sand beds, conglomerate lenses, and carbonates deposited in a terrestrial environment. It is overlain by the colourful Dracoisen Fm., which records, at its base, a typical post-glacial negative δ13C anomaly. There are no direct radiometric age constraints or reliable palaeomagnetic data from the Polarisbreen Group, but it is widely accepted that northeastern Svalbard was contiguous with East Greenland during the Neoproterozoic.
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In recent years, interest in Neoproterozoic glaciations has grown as their pivotal role in Earth system evolution has become increasingly clear. One of the main goals of the IGCP Project No. 512 was to produce a synthesis of newly available information on Neoproterozoic successions worldwide similar in format to Hambrey & Harland’s (1981) Earth’s pre-Pleistocene Glacial Record. This Memoir therefore consists of a series of overview chapters followed by site-specific chapters. The overview chapters cover key topics including the history of research on Neoproterozoic glaciations, identification of glacial deposits, chemostratigraphic techniques and datasets, palaeomagnetism, biostratigraphy, geochronology and climate modelling. The site specific chapters for 60 successions worldwide include reviews of the history of research on these rocks and up-to-date syntheses of the structural framework, tectonic setting, palaeomagnetic and geochronological constraints, physical, biological, and chemical stratigraphy, and descriptions of the glaciogenic and associated strata, including economic deposits.