Multibeam bathymetry and the depositional environments of Kongsfjorden and Krossfjorden, western Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Kongsfjorden and Krossfjorden are two ice-proximal fjords on the western coast of Spitsbergen which have been surveyed using multibeam bathymetry, sub-bottom profiling and gravity coring. Central and outer Kongsfjorden is dominated by a 30 km2 outcrop of bedrock, with a thin (<10m) sediment cover. The bedrock displays a relict sub-glacial, ice-scoured topography produced during the glacial re-advances of the Weichselian (20 Ky BP) and again during the last major Holocene re-advance of the Little Ice Age (550-200 yrs BP). Drumlins and glacial flutes are common across the floor of Kongsfjorden, with lengths of 1.5-2.5 km and widths of <100 m, rising up to 10 m in water depths of <100 m. This topography is smoothed by bottom currents from the wind-driven forcing of surface waters. The flow is counter-clockwise, matching boundary layer movement under the influence of Coriolis force. Both fjords are characterized by a variable acoustic character, based on sub-bottom profile data. The deepest basins are dominated by parallel, well-laminated reflectors and an irregular-transparent acoustic character indicating the presence of Holocene-age fine-grained sediments up to 30 m thick. A parallel, irregular-transparent acoustic character with waveform morphology in inner Kongsfjorden is interpreted as moraines, originating from the 1948 and 1869 surges of Kronebreen glacier. Mass-flows are common on the flanks of topographic highs as acoustically chaotic-transparent lensoid and wedge-shaped reflectors. The sediments of outer and central Kongsfjorden are characterized by bioturbated, gas-rich homogeneous muds interpreted as being the result of the settling of fine-grained sediment and particulate suspensions


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Authors: Howe, John A., Moreton, Steven G., Morri, Clara, Morris, Peter

1 January, 2003
Polar Research / 22
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