Late Holocene solifluction history reconstructed using tephrochronology
Phases of activity of four solifluction lobes at an altitude of 750–800 m are dated by tephrochronology at Snaefell, central eastern Iceland (64°48′ N 15°33′ E). The sample includes sorted lobes with tread gradients of 3–11° and unsorted (turf-banked terraces) in slope-foot locations. Trenches through lobe fronts reveal detailed internal structures picked out by multiple tephra layers. The tephras V1717, V1477, Ö1362, V870, Hekla-3 (2900 years BP) and Hekla-4 (3800 years BP) provide isochronous surfaces of known age whose deformation and disturbance indicate mass movement and/or cryoturbation of the soil cover. Undisturbed soil including the Hekla-3 tephra indicates an absence of solifluction prior to 2900 years BP. Several centuries after Hekla-3, gravel-rich horizons mark widespread frost heave and solifluction of hillslopes. Later stabilization of these lobes allowed the accumulation of aprons of aeolian sediment below lee-side risers. These aprons contain in situ mediaeval tephras, dating the inception of solifluction to a considerable time prior to Norse settlement. The likely period of this first phase of solifluction is the Later Bog Period of the Subatlantic, c. 2500–1000 years BP. The aprons are currently being overridden and deformed by solifluction lobes reactivated in the Little Ice Age.
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The introduction of the term periglacial by Łoziński in 1909 to describe the cold-climate conditions in the zone adjacent to, but beyond, the Pleistocene glaciers encouraged the separate development of geocryological and glaciological research. Geological and geomorphological processes at the interface between glaciers and permafrost have, as a result, been given less attention than they warrant, and the influence of one on the other has in many respects been neglected. This book includes a collection of papers that emphasize glacier-permafrost interactions. Papers consider permafrost and its influence on glacitectonic processes, glacial meltwater systems and ground-ice development in proglacial and ice-marginal environments. In addition, recent research findings are reported on paraglacial processes, permafrost evolution, rock glaciers, the formation of ice-wedge casts and periglacial slope evolution. It is hoped that this book will stimulate interest in the interface between glacial and periglacial systems, and encourage further collaborative research involving glaciologists and glacial geologists on the one hand, and geocryologists and permafrost scientists on the other.