Sediment cores from the western Arctic Ocean obtained on the 2005 HOTRAX and some earlier expeditions have been analyzed to develop a stratigraphic correlation from the Alaskan Chukchi margin to the Northwind and Mendeleev-Alpha ridges. The correlation was primarily based on terrigenous sediment composition that is not affected by diagenetic processes as strongly as the biogenic component, and paleomagnetic inclination records. Chronostratigraphic control was provided by 14C dating and amino-acid racemization ages, as well as correlation to earlier established Arctic Ocean stratigraphies. Distribution of sedimentary units across the western Arctic indicates that sedimentation rates decrease from tens of centimeters per kyr on the Alaskan margin to a few centimeters on the southern ends of Northwind and Mendeleev ridges and just a few millimeters on the ridges in the interior of the Amerasia basin. This sedimentation pattern suggests that Late Quaternary sediment transport and deposition, except for turbidites at the basin bottom, were generally controlled by ice concentration (and thus melt-out rate) and transportation distance from sources, with local variances related to subsurface currents. In the long term, most sediment was probably delivered to the core sites by icebergs during glacial periods, with a significant contribution from sea ice. During glacial maxima very fine-grained sediment was deposited with sedimentation rates greatly reduced away from the margins to a hiatus of several kyr duration as shown for the Last Glacial Maximum. This sedimentary environment was possibly related to a very solid ice cover and reduced melt-out over a large part of the western Arctic Ocean.
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Late Quaternary stratigraphy and sedimentation patterns in the western Arctic Ocean