Two millennia of glacier advances from southern Iceland dated by tephrochronology

Martin P. Kirkbride, Andrew J. Dugmore

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    43 Citations (Scopus)


    Two glaciers at Eyjafjallajökull, south Iceland, provide a record of multiple episodes of glacier advance since the Sub-Atlantic period, ca. 2000 yr ago. A combination of tephrochronology and lichenometry was applied to date ice-marginal moraines, tills and meltwater deposits. Two glacier advances occurred before the 3rd century AD, others in the 9th and 12th centuries bracketing the Medieval Warm Period, and five groups of advances occurred between AD 1700 and 1930, within the Little Ice Age. The advances of Eyjafjallajökull before the Norse settlement (ca. AD 870) were synchronous with other glacier advances identified in Iceland. In contrast, medieval glacier advances between the 9th and 13th centuries are firmly identified for the first time in Iceland. This challenges the view of a prolonged Medieval Warm Period and supports fragmentary historical data that indicate significant medieval episodes of cooler and wetter conditions in Iceland. An extended and more detailed glacier chronology of the mid- and late Little Ice Age is established, which demonstrates that some small outlet glaciers achieved their Little Ice Age maxima around AD 1700. While Little Ice Age advances across Iceland appear to synchronous, the timing of the maximum differs between glacier type and region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)398-411
    Number of pages14
    JournalQuaternary Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • Iceland
    • Tephrochronology
    • Moraines
    • Holocene
    • Little ice age
    • Medieval warm period
    • Dating methods


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