Fjord systems and archives: a review
Fjords are glacially over-deepened semi-enclosed marine basins, typically with entrance sills separating their deep waters from the adjacent coastal waters which restrict water circulation and thus oxygen renewal. The location of fjords is principally controlled by the occurrence of ice sheets, either modern or ancestral. Fjords are therefore geomorphological features that represent the transition from the terrestrial to the marine environment and, as such, have the potential to preserve evidence of environmental change. Typically, most fjords have been glaciated a number of times and some high-latitude fjords still possess a resident glacier. In most cases, glacial erosion through successive glacial/interglacial cycles has ensured the removal of sediment sequences within the fjord. Hence the stratigraphic record in fjords largely preserves a glacial-deglacial cycle of deposition over the last 18 ka or so. Sheltered water and high sedimentation rates have the potential to make fjords ideal depositional environments for preserving continuous records of climate and environmental change with high temporal resolution. In addition to acting as high-resolution environmental archives, fjords can also be thought of as mini-ocean sedimentary basin laboratories. Fjords remain an understudied and often neglected sedimentary realm. With predictions of warming climates, changing ocean circulation and rising sea levels, this volume is a timely look at these environmentally sensitive coastlines.