Constraints on the Late Saalian to early Middle Weichselian ice sheet of Eurasia from field data and rebound modelling

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Using glacial rebound models we have inverted observations of crustal rebound and shoreline locations to estimate the ice thickness for the major glaciations over northern Eurasia and to predict the palaeo-topography from late MIS-6 ( the Late Saalian at c. 140 kyr BP) to MIS-4e ( early Middle Weichselian at c. 64 kyr BP). During the Late Saalian, the ice extended across northern Europe and Russia with a broad dome centred from the Kara Sea to Karelia that reached a maximum thickness of c. 4500 m and ice surface elevation of c. 3500 m above sea level. A secondary dome occurred over Finland with ice thickness and surface elevation of 4000 m and 3000 m, respectively. When ice retreat commenced, and before the onset of the warm phase of the early Eemian, extensive marine flooding occurred from the Atlantic to the Urals and, once the ice retreated from the Urals, to the Taymyr Peninsula. The Baltic - White Sea connection is predicted to have closed at about 129 kyr BP, although large areas of arctic Russia remained submerged until the end of the Eemian. During the stadials (MIS-5d, 5b, 4) the maximum ice was centred over the Kara - Barents Seas with a thickness not exceeding c. 1200 m. Ice-dammed lakes and the elevations of sills are predicted for the major glacial phases and used to test the ice models. Large lakes are predicted for west Siberia at the end of the Saalian and during MIS-5d, 5b and 4, with the lake levels, margin locations and outlets depending inter alia on ice thickness and isostatic adjustment. During the Saalian and MIS-5d, 5b these lakes overflowed through the Turgay pass into the Aral Sea, but during MIS-4 the overflow is predicted to have occurred north of the Urals. West of the Urals the palaeo-lake predictions are strongly controlled by whether the Kara Ice Sheet dammed the White Sea. If it did, then the lake levels are controlled by the topography of the Dvina basin with overflow directed into the Kama-Volga river system. Comparisons of predicted with observed MIS-5b lake levels of Komi Lake favour models in which the White Sea was in contact with the Barents Sea.


  • Kurt Lambeck
  • Anthony Purcell
  • Svend Funder
  • Kurt Kjaer
  • Eiliv Larsen
  • Per Möller
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-575
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Publication categoryResearch