Indication of Holocene sea-level stability in the southern Laptev Sea recorded by beach ridges in north-east Siberia, Russia

  • Lasse Sander Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Wadden Sea Research Station, List/Sylt, Germany
  • Rune Michaelis Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Wadden Sea Research Station, List/Sylt, Germany
  • Svenja Papenmeier Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Wadden Sea Research Station, List/Sylt, Germany; Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research Warnemünde, Rostock, Germany
  • Sergey Pravkin Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Gesine Mollenhauer Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Marine Geochemistry, MICADAS Dating Laboratory, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • Hendrik Grotheer Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Marine Geochemistry, MICADAS Dating Laboratory, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • Torben Gentz Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Marine Geochemistry, MICADAS Dating Laboratory, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • Karen Helen Wiltshire Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Wadden Sea Research Station, List/Sylt, Germany
Keywords: Arctic coastal change, gravel beaches, coastal geomorphology, wave climate, Lena Delta, Buor Khaya Bay


The rapid warming of the Arctic may affect the stability of coastal geomorphological systems. Prograded sequences of wave-built deposits, so-called beach-ridge systems, preserve a proxy record of the long-term variability in the drivers of coastal evolution. Information on relative sea level (RSL), climate forcing and sediment supply can be reconstructed from these archives. Buor Khaya Bay is one of the few places along the Siberian Arctic coast where wide beach-ridge systems exist. A previously undescribed field site was surveyed in order to obtain information on the geomorphological processes along the modern shoreline under the current environmental conditions, and the characteristics of the Holocene beach-ridge deposits (e.g., elevation, sediment and age). Our data show that the system formed under storm wave/surge conditions. The beach ridges prograded ca. 1100 m between 6200 and 2600 cal yr BP, with only minor variations in surface elevation. This suggests a continuous and high sediment supply and similar storm wave run-up heights during that time. This relationship is interpreted as indicating RSL stability at a similar-to-present elevation during the period of beach-ridge formation. The hiatus in coastal progradation is concurrent with a deteriorating climate (cooling) in the Laptev Sea area and our data hence suggest increased rates of coastal change during periods of warmer climate conditions. Our study illustrates the potential of coastal sedimentary archives to provide a more complete view of the forcing, resilience and long-term evolution of unconsolidated Arctic coasts in a changing environment.


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How to Cite
Sander L., Michaelis R., Papenmeier S., Pravkin S., Mollenhauer G., Grotheer H., Gentz T., & Wiltshire K. H. (2019). Indication of Holocene sea-level stability in the southern Laptev Sea recorded by beach ridges in north-east Siberia, Russia. Polar Research, 38.
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