Glaciofluvial sequences recording the Birrfeld Glaciation (MIS 5d–2) in the Bern area, Swiss Plateau

Pfander, Jonathan; Schlunegger, Fritz; Serra, Elena; Gribenski, Natacha; Garefalakis, Philippos; Akçar, Naki (2022). Glaciofluvial sequences recording the Birrfeld Glaciation (MIS 5d–2) in the Bern area, Swiss Plateau. Swiss journal of geosciences, 115(1) Springer 10.1186/s00015-022-00414-z

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n this paper, we document that glacio uvial gravel sequences and glacial till deposits that are exposed in the Münt- schemier and Finsterhennen gravel pits (Swiss Plateau west of Bern) record three glacial advances during the Birrfeld Glaciation, which corresponds to the last glacial cycle. Sedimentological logging shows that both gravel pits expose deposits of glacio uvial braided river systems. These sediments are overlain by a till that was deposited during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The results of the provenance analysis imply that the sediments were mainly supplied by the Valais Glacier, which originated in the Central Alps. A minor contribution of the material was supplied by the Saane Glacier with sources in the northern parts of the Alps. In addition, the morphometric analysis particularly of quartzite clasts in the till deposits indicate that while some clasts (the angular ones) were eroded and transported by the Valais Glacier from the Central Alps to the depositional site, the majority of the quartzite constituents (the rounded ones) were most likely reworked from the Molasse bedrock or older gravels. This implies that a large fraction of the sedi- ments in the Müntschemier and Finsterhennen gravel pits could represent recycled material from older uvial gravels and conglomerates that were then reworked by the glaciers as they advanced to the foreland. Based on the sedimen- tological data and considering published and new optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) chronological data, we propose a landscape evolution scenario where the rst glacial advance occurred during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5d. The second glacier advance followed during MIS 4, while the last one during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), which corresponds to the MIS 2. The MIS 5d advance is recorded by the lowest unit of the Müntschemier gravel pit and consists of a ning upward sequence made up of an alternation of gravel and sand beds. The MIS 4 advance is recorded by the unit beneath the LGM till at Müntschemier and by the lowermost layer in the Finsterhennen gravel pit. It comprises an alternation of gravel and sand beds, which coarsens and thickens upwards. The LGM advance, nally, resulted in the deposition of amalgamated gravel beds at Finsterhennen, which ended with the construction of a till that is encountered on the top of both gravel pits. Sediments related to the interstadial conditions between MIS 5a and MIS 5b and MIS 3 were not encountered, which suggests that the warmer periods were characterised by non-deposition and/or erosion, which possibly resulted in the observed sedimentary hiatus. Although the chrono- logical results are still preliminary, the available information allows us to suggest that during the Birrfeld Glaciation, the Valais lobe advanced several times to the Swiss Plateau. In addition, the facies associations imply that the eastward expansion of the Valais lobe during the MIS 5d and MIS 4 were most likely

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Pfander, Jonathan, Schlunegger, Fritz, Serra, Elena, Gribenski, Natacha Madeleine, Garefalakis, Philippos Erich, Akçar, Naki


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Fritz Schlunegger

Date Deposited:

06 Apr 2022 11:53

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 16:17

Publisher DOI:





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