Development History and Quaternary Deposits of the White Sea Basin

Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 82)


The Late Pleistocene and Holocene history of the White Sea Basin is a key to the paleogeography of Northwestern Russia. The chapter describes successively the history of the study of Quaternary sediments in the White Sea, the existing views on the time, and features of the development of the modern sea basin. A seismic-acoustic profiling and lithostratigraphic analysis of selected cores were used to divide the Quaternary cover. Geophysical data made it possible to characterize its three-member structure: glacial, glacial-marine, and marine facies. Lithological and micropaleontological data were used to justify the age of seismic-acoustic units, as well as to characterize facies of the seabed deposits. Analysis of seismic and lithostratigraphic data characterized the major stages of the White Sea Basin history, which began about 14,000 years ago after the onset of the terrain deglaciation. The change of the sedimentation regime occurred about 11,000 years ago. As a result of the penetration of seawater through the Gorlo Strait, glacial-marine basins appeared in the White Sea Basin. In the boreal time of the Holocene (about 9,000 years ago), the marine regime was finally established in all White Sea. A schematic of the Late Pleistocene glacial flow distribution is attached to the chapter. We assume that the Late Pleistocene glaciers did not come in stages from the west but also from the northeast over Kanin Peninsula. New data add details to the Holocene sedimentation history and establish the onset of marine environment on Kola Peninsula, in Karelia, and in the Arkhangelsk region. Recent seismic-acoustic surveys and multichannel high-frequency tools expanded our knowledge of geological bodies and their stratigraphic position in the inner glacial basin. New dating of drill cores and recent geophysical data added quantitative criteria to the Quaternary history.


Glacial history Glaciation Holocene Quaternary deposits Seabed sediments Seismic profiling White Sea 



We consider it our duty to thank our colleagues who took part in the fieldwork and the processing of the materials that served as the basis for this article: from VSEGEI (S.F. Manuilov, V.A. Zhamoydа, P.E. Moskalenko) and from Sevmorgeo (N.K. Fedorovа, K.A. Nikonov, M.A. Nikitin) and micropaleontologists, who made it possible to create a stratigraphic scheme, E.A. Spiridonovа and R.N. Ginoridze. The authors thank the Acad. A.P. Lisitsyn, under whose leadership the program on the White Sea was carried out, and the world’s only four-volume monograph on various aspects of the oceanology of this sea was published. We are grateful to the Doctor of Engineering Sciences, General Director of JSC MAGE, G.S. Kazanin, for the support and kindly presented results of seismic-acoustic surveys. The authors are particularly grateful to I. V. Yegorov, who not only translated this article but also made a great contribution to the editing of its text, which allows us to consider him our co-author. The work was carried out with the financial support of the Rosnedra Agency (State Contracts No. 09/03/12-23, 2006 and F3227, 2008) and support of grants from St. Petersburg State University No. 18.42.1258.2014, 18.42.1488.2015, and 0.42.956.2016 (for expedition studies) and RFBR grant No. 18-05-00303.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Earth Sciences of St. Petersburg State UniversitySt. PetersburgRussia
  2. 2.Marine Arctic Geological Expedition (MAGE)MurmanskRussia
  3. 3.Geological Institute (VSEGEI)St. PetersburgRussia
  4. 4.Lomonosov State UniversityMoscowRussia

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