Overdeepened glacial basins as archives for the Quaternary landscape evolution of the Alps

Buechi, Marius W. (2016). Overdeepened glacial basins as archives for the Quaternary landscape evolution of the Alps (Unpublished). (Dissertation, Universität Bern, Philosophisch-naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Institute of Geological Sciences & Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research)

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The Alps and the Alpine foreland have been shaped by repeated glaciations during Quaternary glacial-interglacial cycles. Extent, timing and impact on landscape evolution of these glaciations are, however, poorly constrained due to the fragmentary character of terrestrial archives. In this context, the sedimentary infills of subglacially eroded, ‘overdeepened’, basins may serve as important archives to complement the Quaternary stratigraphy over several glacial-interglacial cycles. In this thesis, the infills of deep subglacial basins in the Lower Glatt valley (N Switzerland) are explored to better constrain the Middle- to Late Pleistocene environmental change. Five drill cores gave direct insight into to the up to ~200 m thick valley fill at the study site and allowed for detailed analysis of sedimentary facies, age and architecture of the basin fills. A first focus is set on the sedimentology of coarse-grained diamicts with sorted interbeds overlying bedrock in the trough center, which mark the onset of deposition in many glacial bedrock troughs. Evidence from macro- and microsedimentology suggests that these sediments are emplaced subglacially and reflect deposition, reworking and deformation in response to repeated coupling and decoupling of the ice-bed interface promoted by high basal water pressures. Overlying these subglacial sediments, large volumes of sandy glacio-deltaic, fine-grained glacio-lacustrine and lacustrine sediments document sedimentation during glacier retreat from the basins. On these thick valley fill sequences the applicability and reliability of luminescence dating is investigated in a second step on the basis of experiments with several different luminescence signals, protocols and experiments to assess the signal stability. The valley fill of the Lower Glatt valley is then grouped into nine depositional cycles (Formations A-I), which are related to the Birrfeld Glaciation (~MIS2), the Beringen Glaciation (~MIS6), and up to three earlier Middle Pleistocene glaciations, tentatively correlated to the Hagenholz, Habsburg, and Möhlin Glaciations, according to the regional glaciation history. The complex bedrock geometry and valley fill architecture are shown to be the result of multiple erosion and infilling cycles and reflect the interplay of subglacial erosion, glacial to lacustrine infilling of overdeepened basins, and fluvial down-cutting and aggradation in the non-overdeepened valley fill. Evidence suggests that in the study area deep bedrock incision, and/or partial re-excavation, occurred mainly during the Beringen and Hagenholz Glaciation, while older structures may have existed. Together with the observation of minor, ‘inlaid’ glacial basins, dynamic changes in the magnitude and focus of subglacial erosion over time are documented.

Item Type:

Thesis (Dissertation)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences > Quaternary Geology

Graduate School:

Graduate School of Climate Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Büchi, Marius


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




Marius Büchi

Date Deposited:

02 Aug 2016 12:14

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:57



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