Northern hemisphere glaciations have distinctly shaped the landscapes in Europe and North America. The interplay with sea level changes then led to a change in depositional setting from glaciolacustrine terrestrial to shallow marine, with a transition through shoreline processes and riverine operprint. The consequences in Northern Europe were quite different though.

In the Baltic Sea, with barriers to the ocean at Kattegatt, the effect of deglaciations went from heavy basal erosion, glacial thrusting and valley formation to the development of a marginal ice lake and later to a marginal sea with intermittent inflow of salty water. Holocene sediment is stratified and fine-grained, partially associated with contouritic systems.

The North Sea served as the main drainage plain from the dewatering glaciers, and sand was dominating the terrestrial domain. In the early phase, also an ice lake was forming, before rising sea level led to a southward shift of shoreline and in the late stage a strong estuaine circulation. While glacier reaching the North Sea have affected the subsurface by loading, erosion, fracturing, freezing and tunnel valley formation, the area of the North Sea always remained as a depositional sink due to ongoing subsidence.  

Baltic Sea

Glacial thrusting

North Sea

Tunnel valleys and fracturing

Celtic Sea

Glacial erosion

Eastern Canada



Tóth, Zsuzsanna, McCarron S., Wheeler AJ., Wenau S., Davis S., Lim A., Spiess V. (2020) Geomorphological and seismostratigraphic evidence for multidirectional polyphase glaciation of the northern Celtic Sea. Journal of Quaternary Science 35, 465-478,

Wenau, Stefan, Alves T. (2020) Salt-induced crestal faults control the formation of Quaternary tunnel valleys in the southern North Sea. Boreas.

Leng, Wei, Dobeneck TV., Bergmann F., Just J., Mulitza S., Chiessi CM., St-Onge G., Piper DJW. (2018) Sedimentary and rock magnetic signatures and event scenarios of deglacial outburst floods from the Laurentian Channel Ice Stream. Quat. Sci. Rev., 186, 27-46. (PDF)

Rebesco, Michele, Özmaral A., Urgeles R., Accettella D., Lucchi RG., Rüther D., Winsborrow M., Llopart J., Caburlotto A., Lantzsch H., Hanebuth TJJ (2016) Evolution of a high-latitude sediment drift inside a glacially-carved trough based on high-resolution seismic stratigraphy (Kveithola, NW Barents Sea). Quaternary Science Reviews, 147, 178-193,

Hepp, Daniel A.,  Hebbeln D., Kreiter S., Keil H., Bathmann C., Ehlers J., Mörz T. (2012) An east–west-trending Quaternary tunnel valley in the south-eastern North Sea and its seismic–sedimentological interpretation. J. Quaternary Science, 27, 844-853,

Master Theses

Farag, Mohamed (2021) Facies Mapping of a Quaternary Tunnel Valley Infill - North Sea

Sierra, Gabriella (2020) Impact of Salt Tectonics and Glaciations on Sedimentation in the North Sea

Ogunleye, Opeyemi (2018) Quaternary glaciotectonic deformation of bedrock in the Arkona Basin to the Tromper Wiek, southern Baltic Sea – insights from processing and interpretation of 2D multichannel seismic reflection data

Bergmann, Fenna (2015) Analysis of sedimentary structures off E-Canada using hydroacoustic data from cruise MSM 39

Nachtweide, Christoph (2014) 3D model of Pleistocene sediments at the south-eastern margin of the Arkona Basin, Baltic Sea

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