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Holocene glacier fluctuations and environmental changes in subantarctic South Georgia inferred from a sediment record from a coastal inlet

Berg, Sonja; White, Duanne A.; Jivcov, Sandra; Melles, Martin; Leng, Melanie J.; Rethemeyer, Janet; Allen, Claire; Perren, Bianca; Bennike, Ole; Viehberg, Finn


Sonja Berg

Duanne A. White

Sandra Jivcov

Martin Melles

Janet Rethemeyer

Claire Allen

Bianca Perren

Ole Bennike

Finn Viehberg


© 2018 University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press. The subantarctic island of South Georgia provides terrestrial and coastal marine records of climate variability, which are crucial for the understanding of the drivers of Holocene climate changes in the subantarctic region. Here we investigate a sediment core (Co1305) from a coastal inlet on South Georgia using elemental, lipid biomarker, diatom, and stable isotope data to infer changes in environmental conditions and to constrain the timing of late-glacial and Holocene glacier fluctuations. Because of the scarcity of terrestrial macrofossils and the presence of redeposited and relict organic matter in the sediments, age control for the record was obtained by compound-specific radiocarbon dating of mostly marine-derived n-C16 fatty acids. A basal till layer recovered in Little Jason Lagoon was likely deposited during an advance of local glaciers during the Antarctic cold reversal. After glacier retreat, an oligotrophic lake occupied the site, which transitioned to a marine inlet around 8.0±0.9 ka because of relative sea-level rise. From 7.0±0.6 to 4.0±0.4 ka, reduced vegetation coverage in the catchment, as well as high siliciclastic input and deposition of ice-rafted debris, indicates glacier advances in the terrestrial catchment and likely in the adjacent fjord. A second, less extensive period of glacier advances occurred in the late Holocene, after 1.8±0.3 ka.


Berg, S., White, D. A., Jivcov, S., Melles, M., Leng, M. J., Rethemeyer, J., …Viehberg, F. (2019). Holocene glacier fluctuations and environmental changes in subantarctic South Georgia inferred from a sediment record from a coastal inlet. Quaternary Research, 91(1), 132-148.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 10, 2018
Online Publication Date Oct 30, 2018
Publication Date Jan 1, 2019
Deposit Date Nov 30, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, 2018
Journal Quaternary Research (United States)
Print ISSN 0033-5894
Electronic ISSN 1096-0287
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 91
Issue 1
Pages 132-148
Keywords Earth-Surface Processes; Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous); General Earth and Planetary Sciences
Public URL
Publisher URL


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