Ventifacts and wind deflation surfaces in context with glaciofluvial sediment successions in southern Sweden – Their age and implication for glacial history

Per Möller*, Helena Alexanderson, Zoran M. Peric, Jain Mayank

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Recent suggestions propose that the glacial landscape in southern Sweden is primarily a relict from the Saalian glaciation (>130 ka). The arguments for this standpoint are the assertion that the majority of glaciofluvial deposits in this region are till-covered, and that wind-abraded clasts are observed at the contact between glaciofluvial sediments and till at numerous locations. Furthermore, it has been posited that this wind abrasion occurred during periglacial conditions during the Early Weichselian, preceding the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). If this hypothesis holds true, it would necessitate a significant shift in our understanding of the Quaternary geological history for this region. To test this claim, we conducted an extensive examination of the purported stratigraphic conditions within 54 gravel pits situated south of the Middle Swedish End Moraine Zone (MSEMZ). The presence of a covering till bed on top of glaciofluvial sediments could only be confirmed in 22% of the gravel pits, and these sites were almost exclusively associated with ice-margin standstills/oscillations during the Late Weichselian deglaciation. In all other gravel pits where covering till could not be verified, ventifacts occur in several stratigraphic positions: at the contact between glaciofluvial and overlying littoral sediment, redeposited ventifacts within littoral sediment, and ventifacts at the contact between glaciofluvial or littoral sediments and overlying aeolian sediment. We conducted an extensive luminescence dating program (comprising 74 samples) in 22 of the gravel pits to determine the age of the ventification by dating underlying and overlying sediments. We conclude that wind abrasion across southern Sweden was not a single simultaneous event but rather a time-transgressive or recurrent process. It occurred in close conjunction with local deglaciation in some instances, while in others, it transpired later, extending into the Early Holocene. Notably, none of the encountered ventifact surfaces are of a pre-LGM age. For sites along the west coast, the evidence indicates a first wind abrasion event during periglacial conditions roughly between 17 and 16 ka. In upland sites, ventifact formation either occurred immediately after deglaciation, during the Bølling−Allerød interstadial complex (14.7−12.8 ka), or during the Younger Dryas. Even though the ice margin was situated far to the north of these sites during the latter event, concurrent patterned ground formation suggests a harsh climate with reduced vegetation cover, leading to sand drift and ventifact formation in both coastal and upland areas. In some locations, the sand drift and subsequent aeolian sediment deposition persisted into the Early Holocene. Based on our stratigraphic investigations and dates, we reject the idea that southern Sweden's glacial landscape was shaped primarily during the Saalian.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108523
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume327
Number of pages31
ISSN0277-3791
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Glacial history southern Sweden
  • OSL dating
  • Ventifacts
  • Wind deflation

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