Abstract

Quantitative X-ray diffraction analyses on the < 2 mm sediment fraction from the Iceland shelves are reported for subglacial diamictons, seafloor surface sediments, and the last 2000 cal yr BP from two cores. The overall goal of the paper is to characterize the spatial variability of the mineralogy of the present-day surface sediments (18 non-clay minerals and 7 clay minerals), compare that with largely in situ erosional products typified by the composition of subglacial diamictons, and finally examine the late Holocene temporal variability in mineral composition using multi-mineral compositions. The subglacial diamictons are dominated in the non-clay-mineral fraction by the plagioclase feldspars and pyroxene with 36.7 ± 6.1 and 17.9 ± 3.5 wt % respectively, with smectites being the dominant clay minerals. The surface seafloor sediments have similar compositions although there are substantial amounts of calcite, plus there is a distinct band of sites from NW to N-central Iceland that contain 1–6 wt% of quartz. This latter distribution mimics the modern and historic pattern of drift ice in Iceland waters. Principal component analysis of the transformed wt% (log-ratio) non-clay minerals is used to compare the subglacial, surface, and down-core mineral compositions. Fifty-eight percent of the variance is explained by the first two axes, with dolomite, microcline, and quartz being important "foreign" species. These analyses indicate that today the NW–N-central Iceland shelf is affected by the import of exotic minerals, which are transported and released from drift ice. The down-core mineralogy indicates that this is a process that has varied over the last 2000 cal yr BP.

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