A chronology of environmental changes in the Lake Vättern basin from deglaciation to its final isolation

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During and after deglaciation, Lake Vättern developed from a proglacial lake situated at the westernmost rim of the Baltic Ice Lake (BIL), into a brackish water body connecting the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, and finally into an isolated freshwater lake. Here we present geochemical and mineralogical data from a 70-m composite sediment core recovered in southern Lake Vättern. Together with a radiocarbon age model of this core, we are able to delineate the character and timing of the different lake stages. In addition to a common mineralogical background signature seen throughout the sediment core, the proglacial sediments bear a calcite imprint representing ice-sheet transported material from the limestone bedrock that borders the lake basin in the northeast. The proglacial fresh to brackish water transition is dated to 11 480±290 cal. a BP and is in close agreement with other regional chronologies. The brackish period lasted c. 300 years and was followed by a c. 1600 year freshwater period before the Vättern basin became isolated from the Initial Littorina Sea. Decreasing detrital input, increasing δ13C values and the appearance of diatoms in the upper 15 m of the sediment succession are interpreted as an overall increase in biological productivity. This mode of sedimentation continues until the present and is interpreted to mark the final isolation of the lake at 9530±50 cal. a BP. Consequently, the isolation of Lake Vättern was not an outcome of the Ancylus Lake regression, but rather because of ongoing continental uplift in the early Littorina period.


  • Henrik Swärd
  • Matt O'Regan
  • Svante Björck
  • Sarah L. Greenwood
  • Malin E. Kylander
  • Carl-Magnus Mörth
  • Christof Pearce
  • Martin Jakobsson
External organisations
  • Stockholm University
  • Aarhus University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-624
Issue number2
Early online date2017 Oct 20
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr
Publication categoryResearch