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Studying the neogene evolution of the northern Svalbard margin on the Yermak Plateau & Svalbad CM aboard R/V Helmer Hanssen

Chief Scientist: Tom Arne Rydningen


The study area for the Arctic Marine Geology and Geophysics cruise was the NW Svalbard continental margin, i.e. the Woodfjorden Trough, its associated trough mouth fan (TMF), and the southern part of the Yermak Plateau. This margin is of particular interest, as it is located in an area where the West Spitsbergen Current splits into two branches, one branching northwards following the topography of the Yermak Plateau, and the other turning eastwards, following the northern Svalbard continental slope. Furthermore, the seaward bulging Woodfjorden TMF clearly testify to glacial progradation of the margin, but little is known on the glacial history of this area, including the Last Glacial Maximum and the final deglaciation.

The scientific aims of the cruise were to:

1) Constrain the age of the glacial TMF north of Svalbard

2) Study the Neogene to present variability of ocean currents, and the interplay between ocean current deposition/erosion and glacigenic input to the slope

3) Reconstruct the dynamics of the Svalbard Ice Sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum and the final deglaciation

4) Constrain the chronology of deglacial events by recovering material for 14C-dating on the shelf