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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 07 May 2019

Research article | 07 May 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).

Pingo development in Grøndalen, West Spitsbergen

Nikita Demidov1, Sebastian Wetterich2, Sergey Verkulich1, Aleksey Ekaykin1,3, Hanno Meyer2, Mikhail Anisimov1,3, Lutz Schirmeister2, Vasily Demidov1, and Andrew J. Hodson4,5 Nikita Demidov et al.
  • 1Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Bering St. 38, 199397 St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research, Telegrafenberg A45, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 3St. Petersburg State University, 10th Line 33-35, 199178 St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 4University Centre in Svalbard, N-9171 Longyearbyen, Norway
  • 5Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Røyrgata 6, N-6856 Sogndal, Norway

Abstract. Pingos are common features in permafrost regions that form by subsurface massive-ice aggradation and create hill-like landforms. Pingos on Spitsbergen have been previously studied to explore their structure, formation timing, connection to springs as well as their role in post-glacial landform evolution. However, detailed hydrochemical and stable-isotope studies of massive ice samples recovered by drilling has yet to be used to study the origin and freezing conditions in pingos. Our core record of 20.7 m thick massive pingo ice from Grøndalen differentiates into four units: two characterised by decreasing δ18O and δD and increasing d (units I and III), and two others show the opposite trend (units II and IV). These delineate changes between episodes of closed-system freezing with only slight recharge inversions of the water reservoir, and more complicated episodes of groundwater freezing under semi-closed conditions when the reservoir got recharged. The water source for pingo formation shows similarity to spring water data from the valley with prevalent Na+ and HCO3- ions. The sub-permafrost groundwater originates from subglacial meltwater that most probably followed the fault structures of Grøndalen and Bøhmdalen. Today the pingo of Grøndalen is relict and degrading due to warming surface temperatures. The state of pingos on Spitsbergen depends on complex interaction of climate, permafrost and groundwater hydrology conditions, and is thus highly sensitive to climate warming.

Nikita Demidov et al.
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Nikita Demidov et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
As Norwegian geologist Liestøl (1996) recognised In connection with formation of pingos there are a great many unsolved questions. Drillings and temperature measurements through the pingo mound and also through the surrounding permafrost are needed before the problems can be better understood. To shed light on pingo formation here we present the results of first drilling of pingo on Spitsbergen together with results of detailed hydrochemical and stable-isotope studies of massive ice samples.
As Norwegian geologist Liestøl (1996) recognised In connection with formation of pingos there...