Cryolithomorphogenesis in the shallows of the Arctic seas in connection with modern warming

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About the Authors

Anatoliy V. Gavrilov

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Geology,
Leninskie Gory, 1, 119991, Moscow, Russia,

Elena I. Pizhankova

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Geology,
Leninskie Gory, 1, 119991, Moscow, Russia,


Тhe sedimentation with the formation of islands on the banks and shallows of the Laptev and western parts of the East Siberian Sea is characterized. These islands are formed on the site of islands-relicts of the late Pleistocene ice complex. Earlier for many centuries the underwater elevations were eroding, the depths of the sea in their place grew. It is shown that the appearance of islands is a consequence of modern warming. Warming in the Arctic is reinforced by an increase in the temperature of the bottom water, a reduction of ice coverage, and decrease in the albedo. Warming leads to an increase in the retreat rates of the icy coasts under the influence of thermal abrasion and thermal denudation, stimulates seasonal and long-term thawing of bottom sediments. The result of warming is the accumulation of a huge volume of thawed and seasonally thawing deposits. Elongation of ice-free period and intensification of storm activity lead to increased wave movement of sediments.

Shallows of the Arctic seas are characterized by an abundance of ropes and stamukhas. Sediments moved by waves are stored around the stamukhas, like the coastline. Stamukhas melts at the end of the summer season, and accumulative forms—underwater and above-water, often like a ring—remains. Low winter temperatures cause them to freeze. Underwater freezing occurs where the seasonal ice is frozen with the sea bottom (the fast ice layer). In this way, the ring-shaped island Yaya was formed on the Vasilievsky Bank. It was opened in 2013. In recent years, new islands have been designated on the topographic maps of the Laptev and East Siberian seas—Neizvestnye to the southeast of Bunge Land, Zatoplyayemyy—east of the Lena river delta.

Islands in the form of a ring or atoll formed also in past warming. In the Laptev and East-Siberian seas, these are Peschanyy (Sandy) and Nanosnyy (Alluvial) islands. In the cold north-eastern part of the Kara Sea islands with arc shape spits include Voronina, Uyedineniya (Privacy) islands, archipelago of Sergei Kirov and others.


banks and shallows, submarine permafrost, mean annual temperature of bottom water and bottom sediments, fast ice layer, coastal-marine sedimentation, stamukhas.


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For citation: Gavrilov A.V., Pizhankova E.I. Cryolithomorphogenesis in the shallows of the Arctic seas in connection with modern warming InterCarto. InterGIS. GI support of sustainable development of territories: Proceedings of the International conference. Moscow: Moscow University Press, 2019. V. 25. Part 2. P. 77–89. DOI: 10.35595/2414-9179-2019-2-25-77-89 (In Russian)