Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Raymond S. Bradley

Second Advisor

Julie Brigham-Grette

Third Advisor

Jonathan D. Woodruff

Subject Categories

Geochemistry | Geology | Geomorphology | Geophysics and Seismology


Lakes sediments from the Lofoten Islands, Norway, can be used to generate well resolved records of past climate and environmental change. This dissertation presents three lacustrine paleoenvironmental reconstructions that show evidence for Holocene climate changes associated with North Atlantic climate dynamics and relative sea-level variations driven by glacio-isostatic adjustment. This study also uses distal tephra deposits (cryptotephra) from Icelandic volcanic eruptions to improve the chronologies of these reconstructions and explores new approaches to crypto-tephrochronology. Past and present conditions at Vikjordvatnet, Fiskebølvatnet, and Heimerdalsvatnet were studied during four field seasons conducted from 2007-2010. Initially, each lake was characterized by measuring water column chemistry, logging annual temperature fluctuations, and conducting bathymetric and seismic surveys. Sediment cores were then collected and analyzed using multiple techniques, including: sediment density, magnetic susceptibility, loss-on-ignition, total carbon and nitrogen, δ13C and δ15N of organic matter, and elemental compositions acquired by scanning X-ray fluorescence. Chronologies were established using radiocarbon dating and tephrochronology. A 13.8 cal ka BP record from Vikjordvatnet provides evidence for glacial activity during the Younger Dryas cold interval and exhibits trends in Ti, Fe, and organic content during the Holocene that correlate with regional millennial-scale climate trends and provide evidence for more rapid events. A 9.7 cal ka BP record from Fiskebølvatnet shows a strong signal of sediment inwashing likely driven by local geomorphic conditions, although there is evidence that increased inwashing at the onset of the Neoglacial could have been associated with increased precipitation. Heimerdalsvatnet provides a record of relative sea-level change. A 7.8 cal ka BP sedimentary record reflects changes in salinity and water column conditions as the lake was isolated and defines sea-level regression following the Tapes transgression. Cryptotephra horizons were identified in sediments of Heimerdalsvatnet, Vikjordvatnet, and Sverigedalsvatn. They were also found in a Viking-age boathouse excavated along the shore of Inner Borgpollen. These include the GA4-85, BIP-24a, SILK-N2, Askja, 860 Layer B, Hekla 1158, Hekla 1104, Vedde Ash, and Saksunarvatn tephra. This research project also explored the use of scanning XRF to locate cryptotephra in lacustrine sediments and presents experimental results of XRF scans of tephra-spiked synthetic sediment cores.