Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 605–616 | Cite as

Clay-mineral and grain-size distributions in surface sediments of the White Sea (Arctic Ocean): indicators of sediment sources and transport processes

  • Cornelia Saukel
  • Rüdiger Stein
  • Christoph Vogt
  • Vladimir P. Shevchenko


In this study, the grain-size and clay-mineral compositions of 73 surface sediment samples collected in a variety of environmental settings in the White Sea are presented to characterize recent sedimentation processes, reconstruct transport pathways, and identify potential source areas of the terrigenous components. Areas >100 m deep are invariably characterized by silty clay, whereas areas <100 m deep exhibit more heterogeneous grain-size compositions plausibly explained by coastal erosion and (re-)distribution mechanisms, particularly tidal currents. The dominance of sand in the estuarine areas of the Onega and Dvina rivers as well as toward the Gorlo Strait connecting the White Sea with the Barents Sea is attributed to increased current speeds. Illite and smectite are the dominant clay minerals in recent sediments of the southwestern and eastern White Sea sectors, respectively. Their distribution patterns largely depend on the geology of the source areas, and mirror surface circulation patterns, especially in Dvina Bay. Smectite is a key clay mineral in White Sea surface sediments, as it reveals the dominating influence of the Northern Dvina’s runoff on sedimentation and water circulation throughout the basin. In comparison to other Eurasian shelf seas, the White Sea is characterized by a greater diversity of clay-mineral assemblages, which range from illite- to smectite-dominated sectors containing variable amounts of chlorite and kaolinite.


Kaolinite Suspended Particulate Matter Central Basin Baltic Shield Suspended Particulate Matter Sample 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank the crews and participants of the R/V Professor Shtokman and the R/V Ekolog cruises to the White Sea in August of 2003 and 2004. The authors thank the leader of the “White Sea System” project Prof. Alexander Petrovich Lisitzin for support in our studies. Rita Fröhlking and Susanne Wiebe from the Alfred-Wegener Institute (AWI), Bremerhaven, are acknowledged for technical support. Jens Matthiessen (AWI) is thanked for numerous discussions. We acknowledge the reviewers and the journal editors for constructive criticism and useful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cornelia Saukel
    • 1
  • Rüdiger Stein
    • 1
  • Christoph Vogt
    • 2
  • Vladimir P. Shevchenko
    • 3
  1. 1.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Crystallography/ZEKAMUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  3. 3.P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia

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