Pleistocene Evolution of a Scandinavian Plateau Landscape

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The origins and Pleistocene evolution of plateau landscapes along passive continental margins of the North Atlantic have been debated for more than a century. A key question in this debate concerns whether glacial and periglacial surface processes have substantially eroded plateau areas during late Cenozoic climatic cooling or whether the plateaus have mainly been protected from erosion by cold-based and largely nonerosive ice sheets. Here we investigate the Pleistocene evolution of a prominent plateau landscape in Reinheimen National Park, southern Norway. We estimate erosion rates across the plateau via inverse modeling of 141 new cosmogenic 10Be and 26Al measurements in regolith profiles and bedrock. We combine these results with sedimentological analyses of the regolith. In the vicinity of Reinheimen's regolith-covered summits, the combination of uniformly slow erosion (<10 m/Myr) and near-parabolic slope geometry suggests long-term equilibrium with the presently active periglacial mass-wasting processes. Outside summit areas, erosion is faster (up to >50 m/Myr), possibly due to episodic glacial erosion. Despite some indications of chemical alteration, such as grusic saprolite and small amounts of secondary minerals, the fine regolith comprises low clay/silt ratios and is dominated by primary minerals with no sign of dissolution. Together with our modeled erosion rates, this indicates that the regolith cover formed, and continues to develop, during the cold climate of the Late Pleistocene.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Pages (from-to)3370-3387
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

    Research areas

  • Cosmogenic nuclides, Glacial erosion, in-situ 10Be/26Al, Mountain plateaus, Periglacial processes, Regolith weathering

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