Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Small rock-slope failures conditioned by Holocene permafrost degradation: a new approach and conceptual model based on Schmidt-hammer exposure-age dating, Jotunheimen, southern Norway

Matthews, John A; Winkler, Stefan; Wilson, Peter; Tomkins, Matt D; Dortch, Jason M; Mourne, Richard W; Hill, Jennifer; Owen, Geraint; Vater, Amber E

Authors

John A Matthews

Stefan Winkler

Peter Wilson

Matt D Tomkins

Jason M Dortch

Jenny Hill Jennifer.Hill@uwe.ac.uk
Associate Professor in Teaching and Learning

Geraint Owen

Amber E Vater



Abstract

© 2018 Collegium Boreas. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Rock-slope failures (RSFs) constitute significant natural hazards, but the geophysical processes that control their timing are poorly understood. However, robust chronologies can provide valuable information on the environmental controls on RSF occurrence: information that can inform models of RSF activity in response to climatic forcing. This study uses Schmidt-hammer exposure-age dating (SHD) of boulder deposits to construct a detailed regional Holocene chronology of the frequency and magnitude of small rock-slope failures (SRSFs) in Jotunheimen, Norway. By focusing on the depositional fans of SRSFs (≤103m3), rather than on the corresponding features of massive RSFs (~108m3), 92 single-event RSFs are targeted for chronology building. A weighted SHD age–frequency distribution and probability density function analysis indicated four centennial- to millennial-scale periods of enhanced SRSF frequency, with a dominant mode at ~4.5 ka. Using change detection and discreet Meyer wavelet analysis, in combination with existing permafrost depth models, we propose that enhanced SRSF activity was primarily controlled by permafrost degradation. Long-term relative change in permafrost depth provides a compelling explanation for the high-magnitude departures from the SRSF background rate and accounts for: (i) the timing of peak SRSF frequency; (ii) the significant lag (~2.2 ka) between the Holocene Thermal Maximum and the SRSF frequency peak; and (iii) the marked decline in frequency in the late-Holocene. This interpretation is supported by geomorphological evidence, as the spatial distribution of SRSFs is strongly correlated with the aspect-dependent lower altitudinal limit of mountain permafrost in cliff faces. Results are indicative of a causal relationship between episodes of relatively warm climate, permafrost degradation and the transition to a seasonal-freezing climatic regime. This study highlights permafrost degradation as a conditioning factor for cliff collapse, and hence the importance of paraperiglacial processes; a result with implications for slope instability in glacial and periglacial environments under global warming scenarios.

Citation

Matthews, J. A., Winkler, S., Wilson, P., Tomkins, M. D., Dortch, J. M., Mourne, R. W., …Vater, A. E. (2018). Small rock-slope failures conditioned by Holocene permafrost degradation: a new approach and conceptual model based on Schmidt-hammer exposure-age dating, Jotunheimen, southern Norway. Boreas, 47(4), 1144-1169. https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12336

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 13, 2018
Online Publication Date Jul 23, 2018
Publication Date Oct 1, 2018
Publicly Available Date Nov 30, -0001
Journal Boreas
Print ISSN 0300-9483
Electronic ISSN 1502-3885
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 4
Pages 1144-1169
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12336
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/858048
Publisher URL https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12336
Additional Information Additional Information : This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: [Matthews, J. A., Winkler, S., Wilson, P., Tomkins, M. D., Dortch, J. M., Mourne, R. W., Hill, J., Owen, G. and Vater, A. E. (2018) Small rock-slope failures conditioned by Holocene permafrost degredation: A new approach and conceptual model based on Schmidt-hammer exposure-age dating in Jotunheimen, southern Norway. Boreas. ISSN 0300-9483], which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12336. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Files






You might also like



Downloadable Citations