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Age and development of active cryoplanation terraces in the alpine permafrost zone at Svartkampan, Jotunheimen, southern Norway

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2019

John A. Matthews
Department of Geography, College of Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK
Peter Wilson
School of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Ulster University, Cromore Road, Coleraine BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland, UK
Stefan Winkler
Department of Geography and Geology, Julius-Maximilians University Würzburg, Am Hubland, Würzburg 97070, Germany
Richard W. Mourne
Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of the West of England, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK
Jennifer L. Hill
Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of the West of England, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK
Geraint Owen
Department of Geography, College of Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK
John F. Hiemstra
Department of Geography, College of Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK
Helen Hallang
Department of Geography, College of Science, Swansea University, Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP, Wales, UK
Andrew P. Geary
Department of Geography and Environmental Management, University of the West of England, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY, UK


Schmidt-hammer exposure-age dating (SHD) of boulders on cryoplanation terrace treads and associated bedrock cliff faces revealed Holocene ages ranging from 0 ± 825 to 8890 ± 1185 yr. The cliffs were significantly younger than the inner treads, which tended to be younger than the outer treads. Radiocarbon dates from the regolith of 3854 to 4821 cal yr BP (2σ range) indicated maximum rates of cliff recession of ~0.1 mm/yr, which suggests the onset of terrace formation before the last glacial maximum. Age, angularity, and size of clasts, together with planation across bedrock structures and the seepage of groundwater from the cliff foot, all support a process-based conceptual model of cryoplanation terrace development in which frost weathering leads to parallel cliff recession and, hence, terrace extension. The availability of groundwater during autumn freezeback is viewed as critical for frost wedging and/or the growth of segregation ice during prolonged winter frost penetration. Permafrost promotes cryoplanation by providing an impermeable frost table beneath the active layer, focusing groundwater flow, and supplying water for sediment transport by solifluction across the tread. Snow beds are considered an effect rather than a cause of cryoplanation terraces, and cryoplanation is seen as distinct from nivation.

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Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2019 

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Age and development of active cryoplanation terraces in the alpine permafrost zone at Svartkampan, Jotunheimen, southern Norway
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Age and development of active cryoplanation terraces in the alpine permafrost zone at Svartkampan, Jotunheimen, southern Norway
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Age and development of active cryoplanation terraces in the alpine permafrost zone at Svartkampan, Jotunheimen, southern Norway
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