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Depositional environments and palaeoclimate developments in the Aspelintoppen Formation, Svalbard (Aspelintoppen Formation)

Depositional environments and palaeoclimate development in the Aspelintoppen Formation, Svalbard The Aspelintoppen Formation is the youngest part of a Palaeogene foreland basin infill and comprises continental to coastal plain deposits of probably Eocene age (c. 56-37 million years ago). Depositional environments described in the literature compr

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Project date

Starts
2009-08-01

Ends
2012-08-30

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Project Keywords

  • paleoclimate / ocean/lake records / sediments

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Summary

Depositional environments and palaeoclimate development in the Aspelintoppen Formation, Svalbard The Aspelintoppen Formation is the youngest part of a Palaeogene foreland basin infill and comprises continental to coastal plain deposits of probably Eocene age (c. 56-37 million years ago). Depositional environments described in the literature comprise fluvial channels, floodplain and freshwater swamps and tidally influenced coastal environments including estuaries and tidal flats. The deepwater and slope deposits of the foreland basin has been extensively described, whereas the topmost coastal to continental strata is one of the least described parts of the geological record on Svalbard. The Eocene was a period of global warmth in which major ice caps were absent in the Arctic and instead freshwater swamps with lush vegetation grew at high latitudes. Reconstruction of this unique polar environment that does not exist on Earth today may provide us a window into a warmer polar world in the future. At the same time glaciers were starting to grow in Antarctica during the first stages of global cooling into our present icehouse climate. Some recent reports suggest that there may have been seasonal ice in the Arctic at this time. Understanding the nature of climate change during that period will help us understand climate processes and environmental change as the climate of the polar regions change in the future. The Aspelintoppen Formation project consists of an interdisciplinary group of sedimentologists, palaeoclimatologists, palaeobotanists and palaeontologists. The aim of the study is to 1) map the distribution of fluvial and coastal plain facies in the Central Tertiary basin, 2) to investigate palaeoclimate change on land in the Eocene as inferred from palaeobotany, palaeosols, sedimentary structures, geochemistry , micro- and macropalaeontology, 3) to describe the sedimentary geometry of sandbodies in the fluvial, fluvial-tidal transitional and estuarine/coastal plain parts of the Aspelintoppen Formation. In addition we aim to establish a record of variations in composition and grain size of terrigenous material, quantity and maturity of organic matter and stable isotopes/microfossils in order to compare with records from the Arctic Ocean during the same time interval. The project is a collaboration between UNIS (The University Centre in Svalbard), NGU (Geological Survey of Norway), University of Leeds, University College London and University of Bremen.

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