Snowpack and ice-core samples were collected from the dome of Austfonna ice cap, Svalbard, in the spring of both 1998 and 1999. The samples were analyzed for anions, cations, pH, liquid electrical conductivity and oxygen isotopes. Concentrations of chemical components in snowpack with a history of melting were much lower than those in unmelted snowpack. There was a clear difference between Mg2+/Na+ ratios previously in melted snowpack (0.03 ± 0.02) and in unmelted snowpack (0.11 ± 0.02). We propose that the Mg2+/Na+ ratio can be used as an indicator of whether or not firn or bubbly ice in the Austfonna ice core has experienced melt percolation. The Mg2+/Na+ ratio indicates that firn or bubbly ice prior to AD 1920 was much less affected by melt percolation than firn or bubbly ice formed after 1920.