US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



The Holocene 19,1 (2009) pp. 71–77.


U. S. government work.


An important indicator of Holocene climate change is provided by evidence for variations in the extent of drift ice. A proxy for drift ice in Iceland waters is provided by the presence of quartz. Quantitative xray diffraction analysis of the < 2 mm sediment fraction was undertaken on 16 cores from around Iceland. The quartz weight (wt.)% estimates from each core were integrated into 250-yr intervals between −0.05 and 11.7 cal. ka BP. Median quartz wt.% varied between 0.2 and 3.4 and maximum values ranged between 2.8 and 11.8 wt.%. High values were attained in the early Holocene and minimum values were reached 6–7 cal. ka BP. Quartz wt.% then rose steadily during the late Holocene. Our data exhibit no correlation with counts on haematite-stained quartz (HSQ) grains from VM129-191 west of Ireland casting doubt on the ice-transport origin. A pilot study on the provenance of Fe oxide grains in two cores that cover the last 1.3 and 6.1 cal. ka BP indicated a large fraction of the grains between 1 and 6 cal. ka BP were from either Icelandic or presently unsampled sources. However, there was a dramatic increase in Canadian and Russian sources from the Arctic Ocean ~1 cal. ka BP. These data may indicate the beginning of an Arctic Oscillation-like climate mode.