Litho- and chronostratigraphy of the Late Weichselian in Vendsyssel, northern Denmark, with special emphasis on tunnel-valley infill in relation to a receding ice margin

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Lithostratigraphy and chronostratigraphy of samples from 18 deep boreholes in Vendsyssel have resulted in new insight into the Late Weichselian glaciation history of northern Denmark. Prior to the Late Weichselian Main advance c. 23-21 kyr BP, Vendsyssel was part of an ice-dammed lake where the Ribjerg Formation was deposited c. 27-23 kyr BP. The timing of the Late Weichselian deglaciation is well constrained by the Main advance and the Lateglacial marine inundation c. 18 kyr BP, and thus spans only a few millennia. Rapid deposition of more than 200 m of sediments took place mainly in a highly dynamic proglacial and ice-marginal environment during the overall ice recession. Mean retreat rates have been estimated as 45-50 m/yr in Vendsyssel with significantly higher retreat rates between periods of standstill and re-advance. The deglaciation commenced in Vendsyssel c. 20 kyr BP, and the Troldbjerg Formation was deposited c. 20-19 kyr BP in a large ice-dammed lake in front of the receding ice sheet, partly as glaciolacustrine sediments and partly as rapid and focused sedimentation in prominent ice-contact fans, which make up the Jyske As and Hammer Bakker moraines. In the northern part of central Vendsyssel, at least four generations of north-south orientated tunnel valleys are identified, each generation related to a recessional ice margin. This initial deglaciation was interrupted by a major re-advance from the east c. 19 kyr BP, which covered most of Vendsyssel. An ice-dammed lake formed in front of the ice sheet as it retreated towards the east; the Morild Formation was deposited here c. 19-18 kyr BP. Related to this stage of deglaciation, eight ice-marginal positions have been identified based on the distribution of large tunnel-valley systems and pronounced recessional moraines. The Morild Formation consists of glaciolacustrine sediments, including the sediment infill of more than 190 m deep tunnel valleys, as well as the sediments in recessional moraines, which were formed as ice-contact sedimentary ridges, possibly in combination with glaciotectonic deformation. The character of the tunnel-valley infill sediments was determined by proximity to the ice margin. During episodes of rapid retreat of the ice margin, tunnel valleys were quickly abandoned and filled with fine-grained sediments in a distal setting. During slow retreat of the ice margin, tunnel valleys were filled in an ice-proximal environment, and the infill consists of alternating layers of fine- to coarse-grained sediments. At c. 18 kyr BP, Vendsyssel was inundated by the sea, when the Norwegian Channel Ice Stream broke up, and a succession of marine sediments (Vendsyssel Formation) was deposited during a forced regression.


  • Charlotte Fog Krohn
  • Nicolaj Krog Larsen
  • Christian Kronborg
  • Ole Bjorslev Nielsen
  • Karen Luise Knudsen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-833
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch