Stratigraphy of Late Cenozoic sediments of the western Chukchi Sea: New results from shallow drilling and seismic-reflection profiling Academic Article uri icon


  • The Quaternary history of Beringia and of the Arctic-Pacific marine connection via the Bering Strait is poorly understood because of the fragmentary stratigraphic record from this region. We report new borehole and seismic-reflection data collected in 2006 in the southwestern Chukchi Sea. Sediment samples were analyzed for magnetic properties, grain size, heavy minerals, and biostratigraphic proxies (spores and pollen, foraminifers, ostracodes, diatoms, and aquatic palynomorphs). Two shallow boreholes drilled between the Chukotka Peninsula and the Wrangel Island recovered sediments of two principal stratigraphic units with a distinct unconformity between them. Based on predominantly reverse paleomagnetic polarity of the lower unit and pollen spectra indicative of forested coasts and climate warmer than present, the age of this unit is estimated as Pliocene to early Pleistocene (broadly between ca. 5 and 2Ma). Attendant sedimentary environments were likely alluvial to nearshore marine. These deposits can be correlated to the seismic unit infilling valleys incised into sedimentary bedrock across much of the study area, and possibly deposited during a transgression following the opening of the Bering Strait. The upper unit from both boreholes contains Holocene 14C ages and is clearly related to the last, postglacial transgression. Holocene sediments in Borehole 2 indicate fast deposition at the early stages of flooding (between ca. 11 and 9ka) to very low deposition, possibly related to expansive sea ice. Closer to shore, deposition at Borehole 1 resumed much later (ca. 2ka), likely due to a change in the pattern of coastal erosional processes and/or the demise of a landbridge between the Chukotka Peninsula and the Wrangel Island inferred from studies on mammoth distribution. 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • Global and Planetary Change

author list (cited authors)

  • Gusev, E. A., Andreeva, I. A., Anikina, N. Y., Bondarenko, S. A., Derevyanko, L. G., Iosifidi, A. G., ... Stepanova, A. Y.

publication date

  • January 1, 2009 11:11 AM