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The retreat of Nigardsbreen, an outlet glacier from the ice-cap Jostedalsbreen in south-central Norway, from its largest extent during the Little Ice Age, uncovered a proglacial lake during 1936–1967. This lake, Nigardsvatn, has been studied since 1968 in order to obtain data on solid material carried by the meltwater stream from the glacier, both in suspension and as bottom load. Between 70 and 85% of the suspended sediment has been deposited on the lake bottom, forming annual varves. The coarse material has been deposited in a delta, the formation of which started in 1968. Its growth, and hence the volume of total annual bottom load, has been surveyed annually for the past 36 years. In 1969 the entire bottom load was collected by building a fence-like net across the river. Material >3 cm was caught by this net, and formed approximately half the amount of suspended sediment transport during the same three-week period. Annual average deposition on the delta was 11800×103 kg for the period 1968–2003. This is almost the same amount as carried in suspension from the glacier on an annual mean basis for the 36-year period. If conditions remain constant, the lake will be completely filled in about 500 years. The glacier erosion is calculated to be 0.3 mm/a.
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Keywords: Nigardsbreen; Norway; bottom load; delta growth; glacier erosion; sedimentation; suspended sediment; varves

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate, Oslo, Norway

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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