Nordlaguna – A unique lake basin at the foot of the Beerenberg volcano, Jan Mayen, containing partially enigmatic sediments

Svante Björck, Malin E. Kylander, Eiliv Larsen, Astrid Lyså, Marianne Christoffersen, Martin Ludvigsen, Stefan Wastegård

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sediments from the only permanent lake on the island of Jan Mayen (71°N, 08°30′W), Lake Nordlaguna (NL), were investigated. The lake, with an area of ∼1 km2, is situated at the foot of the world's northernmost active subaerial volcano and is separated from the sea by a 150–240 m wide beach barrier, which reaches 4–5 m above sea level. Most of the lake is deeper than 25 m, with the deepest part being 36 m. Altogether five coring sites, evenly spread out, were chosen and the sediment cores were retrieved from the lake ice with Uwitec and Nesje corers. After detailed descriptions of the very organic-poor and silt dominated sediments (of supposedly tephra-dominated origin), three sites were chosen for further analyses: macrofossils for 14C dating, tephra chemistry, C, S, grain-size, and XRF analyses. Based on 14C dates and the occurrence of the so-called Eggøya tephra (AD 1732), age models show variable bottom ages for the three sites: ∼3000, 600 and 400 cal yr BP. Due to the position of the core sites, with different sediment source areas, the elemental signals vary considerably between sites. An interesting feature of the lake is an isolated stock of Arctic char, which shows that the now land-locked lake has once been in contact with the sea. The almost total lack of organic material excluded any advanced paleo-ecologic investigations of the lake, and the study therefore focused on its marine-limnic history by different examinations of the XRF data with focus on the oldest and longest record. This development is based on elemental ratios (Br/Zn), PCA analyses of a center log ratio (clr) transformation of the original XRF data and magnetic susceptibility. It shows that the lake was isolated just before the time of the Eggøya tephra fall-out (∼220 cal yr BP), when the stock of Arctic char was most likely isolated from the sea. This was preceded by a ∼2200 yr long period of marine bay with a more or less open connection with the sea, and thus varying fresh-water impact. Between ∼2400 and 2600 cal yr BP the basin was more or less isolated, preceded by almost full marine conditions for at least the 300–400 preceding years we have data from, a period when relative sea level might have been higher.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100060
JournalQuaternary Science Advances
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jul

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geology

Free keywords

  • Arctic char
  • Clr transformation
  • Jan Mayen
  • Land-locked lake
  • Marine-limnic transitions
  • Tephra impact
  • Volcano
  • XRF analyses


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