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Abstract

Multiproxy analyses including hydrographical, geochemical, foraminferal, lithological and geophysical data reveal variable influences of the glaciers Tunabreen and von Postbreen as well as the river Sassenelva on the sedimentary environment in two Spitsbergen fjords during the Late Weichselian and the Holocene. Grounded ice covered the study area during the last glacial. The glacier fronts retreated stepwise during the latest Weichselian/earliest Holocene, and the glaciers were probably small during the early Holocene. A growth of Tunabreen occurred between 6 and 4 cal ka BP. Reduced input from Tunabreen from c. 3.7 cal ka BP was probably a result of suppressed iceberg rafting related to the enhanced formation of sea ice and/or reduced meltwater runoff. During the past two millennia, the glacier fronts advanced and retreated several times. The maximum Holocene glacier extent was reached at the end of a surge of von Postbreen in AD 1870. Characteristics of the modern glaciomarine environment include: (1) different colours and bulk-mineral assemblages of the turbid waters emanating from the main sediment sources; (2) variable locations of the turbid-water plumes as a consequence of wind forcing and the Coriolis effect; (3) stratified water masses during summers with interannual variations; (4) increasing productivity with increasing distance from the glacier fronts; (5) foraminifera-faunal assemblages typical for glacierproximal settings; and (6) periodical mass-transport activity.

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