Modern foraminiferal assemblages in northern Nares Strait, Petermann Fjord, and beneath Petermann ice tongue, NW Greenland

Anne Jenningsa , John Andrewsa , Brendan Reillyb , Maureen Walczakc , Martin Jakobssond , Alan Mixc , Joe Stonerc , Keith W. Nichollse , and Maziet Chesebyc

a INSTAAR, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA;
b Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA;
c CEOAS, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA;
d Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden;
e Natural Environmental Research Council, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK

Calving events of Petermann Glacier, northwest Greenland, in 2010 and 2012 reduced the length of its ice tongue by c. 25 km, allowing exploration of newly uncovered seafloor during the Petermann 2015 Expedition. This article presents the results of foraminiferal analysis and environmental data from thirteen surface sediment samples in northern Nares Strait and Petermann Fjord, including beneath the modern ice tongue. This is the first study of living foraminifera beneath an arctic ice tongue and the first modern foraminiferal data from this area. Modern assemblages were studied to constrain species environmental preferences and to improve paleoenvironmental interpretations of foraminiferal assemblages. Sub–ice tongue assemblages differed greatly from those at all other sites, with very low faunal abundances and being dominated by agglutinated fauna, likely reflecting low food supply under the ice tongue. Fjord fauna were comprised of 80 percent or more calcareous species. Notably, Elphidium clavatum is absent beneath the ice tongue although it is dominant in the fjord. Increasing primary productivity associated with the transition to mobile sea ice, diminishing influence of the Petermann Glacier meltwater with distance from the grounding line, and increased influence of south-flowing currents in Nares Strait are the important controls on the faunal assemblages.