Schmidt-hammer exposure-age dating (SHD) of sorted stripes on Juvflye, Jotunheimen (central south Norway): morphodynamic and palaeoclimatic implications

Stefan Winkler, John Matthews, Stefan Haselberger, Jennifer Hill, Richard Mourne, Geraint Owen, Peter Wilson

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Measurements with an electronic Schmidt-hammer (RockSchmidt) were conducted on 23 sites of sorted stripes (periglacial patterned ground) on Juvflye, Jotunheimen (central South Norway). All were located above the current lower limit of alpine permafrost. Performing Schmidthammer exposure-age dating (SHD) based on application of a new local agecalibration equation for RRock-values yielded SHD-ages between 7,975 ± 370 and 6,660 ± 355 years ago, which are closely comparable to results obtained previously from sorted circles at the same location. The age estimates are interpreted as 'composite' ages indicative of upfreezing of boulders, lateral sorting, and subsequent stabilisation. Formation of patterned ground essentially ceased with the onset of the regional Holocene Thermal Maximum (HTM). Neither sorted stripe sites at higher altitude, continuously underlain by permafrost during the entire Holocene, nor those at lower altitudes affected by re-aggradation of permafrost in the late Holocene show signs of significant recent morphodynamic activity. Likely explanations for early- to mid-Holocene stabilisation include (1) substantial changes of soil moisture conditions and related thermodynamics within the active layer affecting frost action, (2) loss of fine-grained substrate matrix from the coarse stripes and hence reduced frost susceptibility, and (3) exhaustion of supply of boulders from the fines-dominated areas. Whereas the sorted stripe data set as a whole did not reproduce the altitudinal gradient characteristic of sorted circles on Juvflye, the strength of the relationship between sorted stripe mean RRock-values and altitude increased with declining slope gradient. Although interpretation of SHD-ages for patterned ground remains challenging, this successful application of the electronic Schmidt-hammer, with its increased efficiency and technical improvements over the mechanical Schmidt-hammer, offers considerable potential for future SHD-studies in both morphodynamic and palaeoclimatic contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107014
Number of pages19
Early online date23 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 15 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Periglacial patterned ground
  • Sorted stripes
  • Alpine permafrost
  • Schmidt-hammer exposure-age dating (SHD)
  • Rock
  • Schmidt
  • Holocene palaeoclimatology


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