Central Arctic Ocean Sediment Texture: A Key to Ice Transport Mechanisms

  • David L. Clark
  • Arnold Hanson


The perennial Arctic Ocean ice-cover consists of sea ice and glacial ice. Sea ice is most common today but at times during the Late Cenozoic, glacial ice has been extremely abundant. Both sea ice and glacial ice can transport a significant sediment load. The mode of incorporation of sediment into the two ice types is quite different. Sea ice can trap atmospheric dust that accumulates during times of precipitation. In addition, silt and clay mobilized by wave action during autumnal storms in shallow shelf areas, may be incorporated into sea ice as it begins to form. This fine-grained component can be transported from the shelf to the central Arctic Ocean. Coarser sediment may be plucked from beach areas by shore-fast ice but probably is dropped before significant transport.

In contrast, glacial ice enters the Arctic ice-pack carrying a significant sediment load of coarse and fine-grained material. Most of the coarse sediment accumulating in the central Arctic has been ice-rafted by glacial ice.

Sediment cores considered to represent the record of approximately the last 5 m.y., contain the record of ice transport into the central Arctic. A textural classification is useful in understanding important times of ice transport mechanisms. Transportation by glacial ice is primarily responsible for coarser (type IV) sediment, sea ice may be the major source of finer (type III) sediment, and a combination of both transport mechanisms may best explain type I (mixed coarse and fine) sediment. The sediment record suggests that neither giant Arctic Ocean ice-caps nor ice-free conditions have existed for at least 5 m.y.


Arctic Ocean Late Miocene Coarse Sediment Environmental Regime Central Arctic Ocean 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Broecker, W.S., 1975, Floating glacial ice caps in the Arctic Ocean: Science, v. 188, p. 1116–1118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bushnell, Vivian, ed., 1960, Scientific Studies at Fletcher’s Island T-3, 1952–1955: 3 volumes, Air Force Cambridge Research Center, Bedford, Massachusetts (219, 117, and 114 p).Google Scholar
  3. Clark, D.L., 1971, Arctic Ocean ice cover and its late Cenozoic history: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 82, p. 3313–3324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clark, D.L., 1977, Paleontologic response to post-Jurassic crustal plate movements in the Arctic Ocean, in Paleontology and Plate Tectonics, West, R.M., ed.: Milwaukee Public Museum, Special Publication in Biology and Geology, no. 2, p. 55–76.Google Scholar
  5. Clark, D.L., Whitman, R.R., Morgan, K.A., and Mackey, S.D., 1980, Stratigraphy and glacial-marine sediments of the Amerasian Basin, central Arctic Ocean: Geological Society of America Special Paper 181, 57 p.Google Scholar
  6. Darby, D.A., Burckle, L.H., and Clark, D.L., 1974, Airborne dust on the Arctic Pack ice: its composition and fallout rate: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 24, p. 166–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ericson, D.B., Ewing, Maurice, and Wollin, Goesta, 1964, Sediment cores from the Arctic and subarctic seas: Science, v. 144, p. 1183–1192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fletcher, J.O., 1950, Floating ice islands in the Arctic Ocean: Tellus, v. 2, p. 323–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gilbert, M.W., and Clark, D.L., 1983, Central Arctic Ocean paleoceanographic interpretations based on Late Cenozoic calcareous dinoflagellates: Marine Micropaleontology, v. 7, p. 385–401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hattersley-Smith, G.F., 1963, The Ward Hunt ice shelf: Recent changes of the ice front: Journal of Glaciology, v. 4, p. 415–424.Google Scholar
  11. Herman, Yvonne, and Hopkins, D.M., 1980, Arctic Ocean climate Late Cenozoic time: Science, v. 209, p. 557–562.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hopkins, D.M., and Herman, Yvonne, 1981, Ice-rafting, an indication of glaciation?: Science, v. 214, p. 688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hughes, T., Denton, G.H., and Grosswald, M.G., 1977, Was there a late Wurm Arctic Ice Sheet?: Nature, v. 266, p. 596–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hunkins, K.L., 1968, Geomorphic provinces of the Arctic Ocean, in Sater, J.E. ed., Arctic Drifting Stations: Arctic Insititute of North America, Washington, D.C., p. 365–376.Google Scholar
  15. Hunkins, K.L., Ewing, Maurice, Heezen, B.C., and Menzies, R.J., 1960, Biological and geological observations on the first photographs of the Arctic Ocean deep-sea floor: Limnology and Oceanography, v. 5, p. 154–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kitchell, J.A., 1979, Deep-sea traces from the central Arctic: an analysis of diversity: Deep-sea Research, v. 26A, p. 1185–1198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Koenig, L.S., Greenaway, K.R., Dunbar, M.J., and Hattersley-Smith, G.F., 1952, Arctic ice islands: Arctic, v. 5, p. 66–103.Google Scholar
  18. Lisitzin, A.P., 1972, Sedimentation in the world ocean: Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists Special Publication 17, 218 p.Google Scholar
  19. Margolis, S.V., and Herman, Yvonne, 1980, Northern hemisphere sea-ice and glacial development in late Cenozoic: Nature, v. 286, p. 145–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Marshall, E.W., 1955, Structural and stratigraphic studies of the northern Ellesmere ice shelf: Arctic, v. 8, p. 109–114.Google Scholar
  21. Martin, Pat, and Thorndike, Alan, 1974, Ice island report: AIDJEX Bulletin no. 27, p. 108–116.Google Scholar
  22. Martin, Seelye, 1981, Frazil ice in rivers and oceans: Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics., v. 13, p. 379–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Montgomery, M., 1952, Further notes on ice islands in the Canadian Arctic: Arctic, v. 5, p. 183–187.Google Scholar
  24. Mullen, R.E., Darby, D.A., and Clark, D.L., 1972, Significance of atmospheric dust and ice rafting for Arctic Ocean sediment: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 83, p. 205–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nutt, D.C., 1966, The drift of ice island WH-5: Arctic, v. 19, p. 244–262.Google Scholar
  26. O’Neill, B.J., 1981, Pliocene and Pleistocene benthic foraminifera from the central Arctic Ocean: Journal of Paleontology, v. 55, p. 1141–1170.Google Scholar
  27. Schindler, J.F., 1968, The impact of ice-islands: the story of Arlis II and Fletcher’s ice-island T-3, since 1962, in Sater, J.E., ed., Arctic drifting stations: Washington, D.C., Arctic Institute of North America, p. 49–80.Google Scholar
  28. Smith, D.D., 1964, Ice lithologies and structure of ice island Arlis II: Journal of Glaciology, v. 5, p. 17–38, with foldout map.Google Scholar
  29. Spjeldnaes, Nils, 1981, Ice-rafting, an indication of glaciation?: Science, v. 214, p. 687–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Steuerwald, B.A., Clark, D.L., and Andrew, J.A., 1968, Magnetic stratigraphy and faunal patterns in Arctic Ocean sediments: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 5, p. 79–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wendt, J., 1974, Encrusting organisms in deep-sea manganese nodules: Special Publication International Association of Sedimentology, v. 1, p. 437–447.Google Scholar
  32. Worsley, T.R., and Herman, Yvonne, 1980, Episodic ice-free Arctic Ocean in Pliocene and Pleistocene time: calcareous nannofossil evidence: Science, v. 210, p. 323–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. Clark
    • 1
    • 2
  • Arnold Hanson
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeophysicsUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Polar Science CenterUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations