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Aeolian sand movement and relative sea-level rise in Ho Bugt, western Denmark, during the 'Little Ice Age'

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Publication details

JournalThe Holocene
DatePublished - 1 Sep 2008
Issue number6
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)951-965
Original languageEnglish


This study documents an extensive aeolian sand sheet buried in the salt marshes of the Ho Bugt embayment in western Denmark. The extent of the sand sheet was mapped from c. 60 cores and sections, which were also used to reconstruct late-Holocene changes in relative sea level based on diatom analyses. Chronology was provided by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and radiocarbon dating. Our study shows that since 2000 cal. yr BP relative sea level in Ho Bugt has risen by approximately 1.5 m. The overall rise was punctuated by two periods with higher than average rates of sea-level rise, the first between 2000 and 1400 cal. yr BP and the second commencing c. 500 cal. yr BP. Around 700 cal. yr BP the evolution of the Skallingen Spit may have been responsible for a reduction in the local tidal range and the formation of an extensive 'black layer' in the western part of the embayment. OSL analyses date the sand sheet to between AD 1460 ± 40 and AD 1550 ± 30 (490 ± 40 and 400 ± 30 cal. yr BP), consistent with a period of increased storminess, coastal dune building, salt-marsh formation and increased relative sea-level rise during the early part of the LIA. Other studies have ascribed formation of coastal dunes along western European coastlines during the 'Little Ice Age' (LIA) to a combination of increased storminess and low relative sea level. In contrast, we conclude that during the LIA in western Denmark, storminess, transgressive conditions and relative sea-level rise, rather than a sea-level low stand, were important contributing factors to coastal sand movement and dune formation.

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