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MoG Geoscience vol. 1 1979              Order this book on-line

C. K. Brooks
Geomorphological observations at Kangerdlugssuaq. East Greenland

The Kangerdlugssuaq area is mainly comprised of two contrasting rock groups: on the one hand the easily-eroded lavas and sediments of late Mesozoic to early Tertiary age and on the other the highly resistant Precambrian gneisses. Intermediate between these two types in terms of behaviour with respect to erosion are the Tertiary plutonic complexes and the basaltic areas along the coast which have been intruded by intense dyke swarms.
In the late Mesozoic the area was a peneplain, and low relief apparently persisted throughout the volcanic episode as there is good evidence that the lava plateau subsided during its formation. During this period ocean-floor spreading gave rise to the embryonic Danmark Stræde. Shortly after the volcanic episode the Kangerdlugssuaq area became the center of massive domal upwarping which have been a dominant feature on the land-forms up to the present day. The original surface of the dome has been reconstructed on the basis of topographic and geological evidence to show that it was elliptical in form with a major axis of at least 300 km in length and in height above present sea-level of about 6.5 km. However, subsequent isostatic effects are not considered in deriving these figures. The updoming is estimated to have occurred about 50 m.y. ago.
Several kilometres thickness of sediments and lava were eroded off this dome at an early stage exposing the gneissic core, which still stands in alpine peaks up to about 2.7 km altitude in th central part, and dumping c. 50000 km3 of sediment on the continental shelf. The erosion was effected by a radial, consequent drainage system, relicts of which can still be found. Kangerdlugssuaq itself may owe its origin to a tectonic line of weakness formed in response to doming, but there are also good arguments for its being purely erosional. The erosion of the dome was probably fluviatile but all trace of this stage has been obliterated by the subsequent glaciation.
In the period between the Eocene and the early Miocene, possibly about 35 m.y. ago, the entire area underwent epeirogenic uplift raising the undeformed parts of the original lava plateau to around 2.5 km above sea-level. At present this plateau is undergoing dissection, from the seaward side, but considerable areas are still preserved under thin, horizontal ice-caps.
A brief description of the various types of glaciers, an impermanent, ice-dammed lake and the areas of ice-free land is given. In the Pleistocene, the Kangerdlugssuaq glacier was considerably thicker than at the present time and extended far out over the shelf, excavating a deep channel here. Finally some observations on the coastlines are presented.