Research Interests


Professional background
Research Interests
Lecturing and supervising
Quaternary Geology
Photo Gallery
Favorite links
Antarctica glacial history
Svalbard Geology
Icelandic glaciers
Iceland Excursion
Climate in Iceland
Utanlandsferd 2005
Utanlandsferd 2007
Geology of Thingvellir
Saga lifs og lands
Lagarfljot Project
Eyjabakkajokull Project
Ritgerdir nemenda


My doctoral thesis, which is mainly based on glacial geological/ morphological/ sedimentological methods, deals with the deglaciation of the west coast of Iceland. My post-doctoral research has been focused on the Late Quaternary glacial- and climatic histories of the polar regions and Iceland, with fieldwork in Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard, western Siberia and Antarctica. I have contributed to a number of research fields within glacial and Quaternary geology: Glacial stratigraphy, glacial morphology, relative sea level changes, Late Quaternary glacial and climatic changes, geochronology, glaciotectonics, sedimentary processes, glacial research history. I have also initiated and organised biostratigraphical lake sediment studies on northern Iceland and participated in biostratigraphical studies on Greenland lake sediments and Antarctic moss banks. The research projects outlined below all have the aim of contributing to our understanding of how Late Quaternary environments have developed regionally. One important aspect of working both in the Arctic and Antarctica has been to compare the environmental histories of the polar regions, for a better understanding of the global development of climate and glaciation. A short outline of the research projects I have been involved in for the past years, and which highlight my research profile, is given below:


The deglaciation history of Iceland


Late Weichselian-early Holocene environmental changes on Iceland


Late Quaternary glacial and environmental history of Svalbard and the Barents Sea


Quaternary environmental history of Antarctica


Glacial history of the Kara Sea area, arctic Russia


Brúarjökull - a surging glacier

Sólheimajökull, southern Iceland. Photo: Ólafur Ingólfsson 2004


The deglaciation history of Iceland
The results of my Ph.d. thesis from coastal western Iceland showed that Iceland was subject to extensive Younger Dryas/Preboreal glaciation, and that the history of sea-level changes needed revision. Additional fieldwork on southern Iceland showed that there the Preboreal glaciation was more extensive than previously recognised, and that the deglaciation occurred primarily during the Preboreal. This project has resulted in a number of publications and international lectures. The most important contributions are (a) a new synthesis for the deglacion of Iceland and (b) new data on the dynamics of the postglacial isostatic rebound, with the only two stratigraphically controlled relative sea level curves that exist for Iceland. Collaborators: Dr. Christian Hjort (Lund University), Dr. Hreggvidur Norddahl (University of Iceland), Dr. Halldór G. Pétursson (Museum of Natural History), Dr. Árni Hjartarson (Energy Authorities of Iceland)
bulletSelected publications:
bullet Hjartarson, Á. & Ingólfsson, Ó. 1989: Preboreal Glaciation of Southern Iceland. Jökull 38: 1-16.
bullet Hjort, C., Ingólfsson, Ó. & Norddahl, H. 1986: Late Quaternary Geology and Glacial History of Hornstrandir, Northwest Iceland: A reconnaissance study. Jökull 35: 9-29.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó. 1987: The Late Weichselian glacial geology of the Melabakkar-Asbakkar coastal cliffs, Borgarfjördur, W-Iceland. Jökull 37: 57-80.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó. 1988: Glacial history of the lower Borgarfjördur area, western Iceland. Geologiska Föreningens i Stockholm Förhandlingar 110: 293-309.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó. 1988: Large-scale glaciotectonic deformation of soft sediments: A case study of a Late Weichselian sequence in western Iceland. In: D. Croot (ed.): Glaciotectonics: Forms and Processes, 101-107. Balkema, Rotterdam.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó. 1991: A review of the Late Weichselian and early Holocene glacial and environmental history of Iceland. In: J. Maizels & C. Caseldine (eds.): Environmental Change in Iceland: Past and Present, 13-29. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó. & Norddahl, H. 1994: A review of the environmental history of Iceland, 13,000-9000 BP. Journal of Quaternary Science 9: 147-150.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó. & Norddahl, H. 2001: High relative sea-level during the Břlling interstadial in W Iceland: a reflection of ice-sheet collapse and extremely rapid glacial unloading. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 33, 231-243.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó., Norddahl, H,. & Haflidason, H 1995: Rapid isostatic rebound in south-western Iceland at the end of the last glaciation. Boreas 24: 245-259.

Gígjökull, southern Iceland. Photo: Ólafur Ingólfsson 2004.


Late Weichselian-early Holocene environmental changes on Iceland
Our knowledge and understanding of the vegetation- and climate history of Iceland during and immediately after the deglaciation has been hampered by lack of high-resolution data. During two winter expeditions to the Skagi peninsula on northern Iceland six lakes were cored for sediment records. From one of the lakes, a 12 m long lake sediment core was recovered. It extends back to beyond 11,000 BP, or about 3000 years further back in time than any previous lake sediment core in Iceland. This project achieved a number of important goals: (a) new information on the pioneer vegetation on northern Iceland, developing since Allerřd times; (b) a biostratigraphical record of the Younger Dryas cooling and developments during the Preboreal; (c) extending the N Icelandic tephrostratigraphy 2,500-3,000 years back in time, from ca. 8,000 BP to ca. 11,000 BP. The project has resulted in a number of international publications. Collaborators: Dr. Mats Rundgren (Lund University), Professor Svante Björck (Lund University), professor Haflidi Haflidason (University of Bergen)
bulletSelected publications:
bullet Björck, S., Ingólfsson, Ó., Haflidason, H., Hallsdóttir, M. & N. John Anderson 1992: Lake Torfadalsvatn: a high resolution record of the North Atlantic Ash Zone I and the last glacial-interglacial environmental changes in Iceland. Boreas 21: 15-22.
bullet Björck, S., Rundgren, M., Ingólfsson, Ó. & Funder, S. 1997: The Preboreal Oscillation around the Nordic Seas: terrestrial and lacustrine responses. Journal of Quaternary Science 12, 455-465.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó., Björck, S., Haflidason, H. & Rundgren, M. 1997: Glacial and climatic changes on Iceland reflecting regional North Atlantic environmental changes during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. Quaternary Science Reviews 16, 1135-1144.
bullet Rundgren, M., Ingólfsson, Ó., Björck, S., Jiang, H. & Haflidason, H. 1997: Dynamic sea-level change during the last deglaciation of northern Iceland. Boreas 26, 201-215.
bullet Rundgren, M. & Ingólfsson, Ó. 1999: Plant survival in Iceland during periods of glaciation? Journal of Biogeography 26, 378-396.

Glaciers on the west coast of Prins Karls Forland. Photo: Ólafur Ingólfsson 2004.


Late Quaternary glacial and environmental history of Svalbard and the Barents Sea
The objective of this project has been to study glacial geological evidence for Late Quaternary glacial and environmental changes on Svalbard and the Barents Sea, with field work on Kongsřya in the central northern Barents Sea, on Prins Karls Forland, west of Spitsbergen, and on Sjuřyena, the northernmost part of Svalbard. Research on the glacial and climate histories of Svalbard/Barents Sea has large relevance for our view of the North Atlantic environmental development. The pace of environmental changes is largely controlled by fluctuations in the the North Atlantic Current, which brings energy and moisture to higher latitudes. The position of the marine polar front and formation of deepwater in the N Atlantic and the arctic basin reflect on the strengt of the North Atlantic Current, and this system paces climate and glacial fluctuations on Iceland as well as in the Barents Sea area. The results from this project up to date indicate that (a) Kongsřya was subject to repeated Late Quaternary glaciations, and that it was close to the dynamic centre of Svalbard-Barents Sea Ice Sheet; (b) Prins Karls Forland was not overridden from east by an active Barents Sea Ice Sheet at any time during the last interglacial-glacial cycle, but experienced local glaciation; (c) Sjuřyena, on the other hand, were overridden by an ice advancing from Svalbard to the south. This project is ongoing, and results are being prepared for international publication: A major effort to core Holocene lake sediments was undertaken 2001-2004, and the results are being worked up for publication. Future glacial geological fieldwork is planned for Nordaustlandet, Svalbard, as well as on the west coast of Spitsbergen. Collaborators: professor Steven L. Forman (University of Illinois at Chicago), professor Jon Landvik (Agricultural University of Norway), professor Jürgen Mienert (Tromsö University), associate professor Alexander P. Wolfe (The University Centre on Svalbard), professor Barbara Wohlfarth (Stockholm University), Fil.mag. Sofia Holmgren (University of Göteborg).   
bulletSelected publications:
bulletAndersson, Th, Forman, S., Ingólfsson, Ó. & Manley, W. 1999: Late Quaternary environmental history of central Prins Karls Forland, Svalbard. Boreas 28, 292-307.
bulletAndersson, Th., Forman, S.L., Ingólfsson, Ó. & Manley, W.F. 2000: Stratigraphic and morphologic constraints on the Weichselian glacial history of northern Prins Karls Forland, western Svalbard. Geografiska Annaler 82, 455-470.
bulletBergsten, H., Andersson, T. & Ingólfsson, Ó. 1998: Foraminal stratigraphy of raised marine deposits, representing isotope stage 5, Prins Karls Forland, western Svalbard. Polar Research 17, 81-91.
bullet Forman, S.L. & Ingólfsson, Ó. 2000: Late Weichselian glacial history and postglacial emergence of Phippsřya, The Seven Islands, northern Svalbard: A comparison of modelled and empirical estimates of a glacial-rebound hinge-line. Boreas 29, 16-25.
bullet Forman, S., Lubinski, D., Ingólfsson, Ó., Zeeberg, D., Snyder, J.A. & Matishov, G.G. 2004: A review of postglacial emergence on Svalbard, Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, northern Eurasia, Quaternary Science Reviews 22: 1391-1434.
bullet Ingólfsson, Ó., Rögnvaldsson, F., Bergsten, H., Hedenäs, L., Lemdahl, G. & Lirio, J.M. 1995: Late Quaternary glacial- and environmental history of Kongsřya, central northern Barents Sea, Svalbard. Polar Research 14: 123-140.

Mangerud, J., Dokken, T., Hebbeln, D., Heggen, B., Ingólfsson, Ó., Landvik, J., Mejdahl, V., Svendsen, J.I. & Vorren, T. 1998: Fluctuations of the Svalbard-Barents Sea Ice Sheet the last 150,000 years. Quaternary Science Reviews 17, 11-42.

Per Möller of Lund University logging a section in James Ross Island. Photo: Ólafur Ingólfsson 1993.


Quaternary environmental history of Antarctica
By reconstructing the Antarctic glacial history it is possible to draw climatological conclusions. By comparing the results with corresponding climatological evidence from the Arctic conclusions can be drawn on global glacial- and climatic development. This research program has focused on studying the deglaciation of the presently ice-free Antarctic lowland areas, the relative sea level history and the environmental development after the deglaciation, with the aim of reconstructing the pattern of glacial and climatic changes in the Antarctic Peninsula region and comparing it to corresponding development in the Arctic. I am a senior author on three international publications and co-author on additional seven. I also participated in an American expedition to southern Victoria Land in 1994, and have co-authored one publication originating in that effort. The most important results of this project are (a) a new circumantarctic synthesis on environmental developments since the Last Glacial Maximum, and (b) a new perspective on the Antarctic contribution to global sea-level rise in Holocene. Our data indicates that deglaciation in Antarctica was considerably delayed compared to Northern Hemisphere deglaciation; that Antarctic meltwater input to the worlds Oceans can be seen the mid-Holocene transgressions (such as the Tapes and Littorina transgressions); and that the Holocene climate optimum in Antarctica occurred as late as ca 4000-3000 14C years ago. Collaborators: Christian Hjort, Svante Björck, Per Möller (Lund University), Ole Humlum (Oslo University), Mike Bentley (University of Durham), Paul Berkman (University of Ohio).
bulletSelected publications
bulletBerkman, P., Andrews, J.T., Björck, S., Colhoun, E.A., Emslie, S.D., Goodwin, I.D., Hart, C.P., Hirakawa, K., Igarashi, A., Ingólfsson, Ó., López-Martínez, J., Lyons, W.B., Mabin, M.C.G., Quilty, P. & Yshida, Y. 1998: Circum-Antarctic coastal environmental variability during the Late Quaternary as recorded in emerged marine deposits. Antarctic Science 10: 345-362.
bulletBjörck, S., Hjort, C., Ingólfsson, Ó. & Skog, G. 1991: Radiocarbon dates from the Antarctic Peninsula region - problems and potentials. Quaternary Proceedings 1: 55-65.
Björck, S., Malmer, N., Hjort, C., Sandgren, P., Ingólfsson, Ó., Wallen, B. & Liedberg-Jönsson, B. 1991: Stratigraphic and paleoclimatic studies of a 5,500 year old moss bank on Elephant Island, Antarctica. Arctic and Alpine Research 23: 361-374
bulletHjort, C. & Ingólfsson, Ó. 2004: Otto Nordenskjöld´s contributions to glaciation history - a bipolar effort with a southern focus. In Elsinge, A. et al. (eds.), Antarctic Challenges: Historical and Current Perspectives on Antarctica. Göteborg, Kungliga Vetenskaps- och Vitterhetssamhället i Göteborg, 188-199.
bulletHjort, C., Ingólfsson, Ó., Möller, P. & Lirio, J.M. 1997: Holocene glacial history and sea level changes on James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Quaternary Science 12, 259-273.
bulletHjort, C., Bentley, M. & Ingólfsson, Ó. 2001: Holocene and pre-Holocene temporary disappearance of the George VI Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctic Science 13, 296-301.
bulletHjort, C., Björck, S., Ingólfsson, Ó. & Möller, P. 1998: Holocene deglaciation and climate history of the northern Antarctic Peninsula region - a discussion of correlation’s between the Southern and Northern Hemispheres. Annals of Glaciology 27, 110-112.
bulletHjort, C., Ingólfsson, Ó., Bentley M.G. & Björck, S. 2003: The Late Pleistocene and Holocene Glacial and Climate History of the Antarctic Peninsula Region as Documented by the Land and Lake Sediment Records – a review. American Geophysical Union Antarctic Research Series 79, 95-102.
bulletIngólfsson, Ó. 2004: Quaternary Glacial and Climate History of Antarctica. In: Ehlers, J. & Gibbard, P.L. (eds.), Quaternary Glaciations of the World - Extent and Chronology, Part III. Dordrecht, Kluwer, 3-43.
bulletIngólfsson, Ó. & Hjort, C. 1999: The Antarctic contribution to Holocene global sea-level rise. Polar Research 18, 323-330.
bulletIngólfsson, Ó. & Hjort, C. 2002: Glacial history of the Antarctic Peninsula since the Last Glacial Maximum: a synthesis. Polar Research 21: 227-234.
bulletIngólfsson, Ó., Hjort, C. Björck, S. & Smith, R.I.L. 1992: Late Pleistocene and Holocene glacial history of James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Boreas 21: 209-222.
bulletIngólfsson, Ó. , Hjort, C. & Humlum, O. 2003: Glacial and climate history of the Antarctic Peninsula since the Last Glacial Maximum. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 35: 175-186.
bulletIngólfsson, Ó., Hjort, C., Berkman, P., Björck, S., Colhoun, E., Goodwin, I.D., Hall, B., Melles, M., Möller, P. & Prentice, M.L. 1998: Antarctic glacial history since the Last Glacial Maximum: an overview of the record on land. Antarctic Science 10, 326-344.

Möller, P. & Ingólfsson, Ó. 1994: Gravel and sand flotation: a sediment dispersal process important in certain nearshore marine environments. Journal of Sedimentary Research A64: 894-898.

Valery Gataullin in front of a glaciotectonically thrusted slice of sand. Marresale coastal cliffs, Yamal Peninsula. Photo: Ólafur Ingólfsson 1996.

bullet Glacial history of the Kara Sea area, arctic Russia
International efforts to investigate the Late Quaternary glacial- and climatic history of arctic Russia, have for the recent few years been coordinated within the so-called QUEEN-initiative (Quaternary Environments of the Eurasian North) of the European Science Foundation. I have collaborated with American, Swedish and Russian colleques on research in the eastern Kara Sea area, with fieldwork on the Yamal- and Yugorski peninsulas, and on Severnaya Zemlya in the Russian high Arctic. The glacial history of the Kara Sea Ice Sheet and its association with the Barents Sea Ice Sheet has beenone of the major unresolved problems regarding the glacial history of the Eurasian arctic. Five field seasons have been carried out within the project: on Yamal Peninsula in 1997, on Yugorski Peninsula in 1998 and 1999, and on Severnaya Zemlya in 2002 and 2003. Our results show that the Yamal Peninsula was subject to a regional glaciation sometime before 40,000 BP, but since then the area has been ice-free. Thus, the Eurasian ice sheet was largely confined to Barents Sea. We also have data which show that the Holocene climate optimum around 70oN in western Siberia occurred between 9000 and 8000 BP. Results on the Late Quaternary development at Yugorski Peninsula show likewise no Late Weichselian glaciation there, but a regional glaciation earlier during the Weichselian. Stratigraphies from both Yamal and Yugorski peninsulas suggest ice movements during the last glaciation from South, i.e. in direction from mainland western Siberia/Polar Urals towards the Kara Sea Basin. Our investigations on Severnaya Zemlya have revealed a complex record of glaciations and marine events during the Late Quaternary.  Collaborators: Steven L. Forman (University of Illinois at Chicago), David Ljubinsky (Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado at Boulder), Per Möller (Lund University), Hanna Lokrantz (Geological Survey of Sweden), Valery Gataullin (Ohio State University, Columbus), Andrei Andreev (Geographical Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences).
bulletSelected references
bullet Andreev, A.A., Manley, W.F., Ingólfsson, Ó. & Forman, S.L. 2001: Environmental changes on Yugorski Peninsula, Kara Sea, Russia, during the last 12,800 radiocarbon years. Global and Planetary Change 31, 255-264.
bullet Forman, S.L., Ingólfsson, Ó., Gataullin, V., Manley, W.F. & Lokrantz, H. 1999: Late Quaternary Stratigraphy of Marresale, Yamal Peninsula, Russia: New constraints on the configuration of the Eurasian Ice Sheet. Geology 27, 807-810.
bullet Forman, S.L, Ingólfsson, Ó, Gataullin, V., Manley, W. & Lokrantz, H. 2002:  Late Quaternary Stratigraphy, Glacial Limits, and Paleoenvironments of the Marresale Area, Western Yamal Peninsula, Russia. Quaternary Research 57, 355-370.
bullet Forman, S., Lubinski, D., Ingólfsson, Ó., Zeeberg, D., Snyder, J.A. & Matishov, G.G. 2004: A review of postglacial emergence on Svalbard, Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya, northern Eurasia, Quaternary Science Reviews 22: 1391-1434.
bulletIngólfsson, Ó. & Lokrantz, H. 2003: Massive Ground Ice Body of Glacial Origin at Yugorski Peninsula, Arctic Russia. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 14, 199-215.
bullet Lokrantz, H., Ingólfsson, Ó. & Forman, S.L. 2003: Glaciotectonised Quaternary sediments at Cape Shpindler, Yugorski Peninsula, Arctic Russia: implications for glacial history, ice movements and Kara Sea Ice Sheet configuration. Journal  of  Quaternary Science 18, 527-543.
bullet Manley, W.F., Lokrantz, H., Gataullin, V. Ingólfsson, Ó, Forman, S.L. & Anderson, T. 2001: Late Quaternary stratigraphy, radiocarbon chronology and glacial history at Cape Shpindler, southern Kara Sea, Arctic Russia. Global and Planetary Change 31, 239-254.
bullet Svendsen, J.I., Alexandersson, H., Astakhov, V., Demidov, J., Dowdeswell, J.A., Henriksen, M., Hjort, C., HoumarkţNielsen, M., Hubberten, H., Ingólfsson, Ó., Jakobsson, M., Kjćr, K., Larsen, E., Lokrantz, H., Luunka, E.P., Lysa, A., Mangerud, J., Maslenikova, O., Matioushkov, A., Murray, A., Möller, P., Niessen, F., Saarnisto, M., Siegert, M., Stein, R., & Spielhagen, R. 2004: Ice sheet history of Northern Eurasia. Quaternary Science Reviews 22, 1229-1271.

Glaciotectonically thrusted and folded paleosoils at Hraukar, at the 1890 margin of the surging glacier Brúarjökull. Photo: Ólafur Ingólfsson, 2004.


 Brúarjökull - a surging glacier
Fast flowing ice or palaeo-ice streams have recently been identified as one of the most important controls on the configuration and stability of former ice sheets. The problem, however, is the lack of contemporary analogues for land based ice streams that is necessary to understand their glacio-dynamic behaviour. Despite this, a certain type of glaciers (surging glaciers) that momentarily reaches fast ice flow actually provides an imprint of sediments, landforms and landform assemblages that resembles the situation related to ice streams. The overall aim of the Brúarjökull project is directed towards the study of depositional environments at a contemporary surging glacier. This includes the development of glacial landscapes and associated sediments. Thus, it embraces the interaction between climate-processes-sediments and landforms over time and space involving glaciological, geomorphological, sedimentological and glacial geological disciplines. The results will serve as reference work and inspiration for geomorphological and geological investigations in areas suspected to be influenced by palaeo-ice streams. Reconnaissance work was carried out during the 2003 field season, continued field work was in the Brúarjökull glacier forefield area in 2004, and is planned for the 2005 summer. Collaborators: Kurt Kjćr (University of Copenhagen Geological Museum), Johannes Krüger and Ívar Örn Benediktsson (University of Copenhagen), Per Möller, Svante Björck and Anders Schomacher  (Lund University), Eiliv Larsen (Geological Survey of Norway), Carita Knudsen (University of Bergen), Jaap van der Meer (Queen Mary College, London), Lilja Rún Bjarnadóttir, Helgi Björnsson and Guđrún Larssen (University of Iceland)
bulletSelected publications

C.G. Knudsen, K.H. Kjćr and J. Krüger: A qualitative model for meltwater drainage during a surge cycle at the Brúarjökull glacier, Eastern Iceland. Submitted to Quaternary Science Reviews.


A. Schomacker, J. Krüger and K.H. Kjćr: Ice-cored drumlins at the surge-type Brúarjökull – the paradox of subglacial till in hummocky moraines. Submitted to Journal of Quaternary Science


Home | Professional background | Research Interests | Publications | Lecturing and supervising | Quaternary Geology | Photo Gallery | Favorite links | Antarctica glacial history | Svalbard Geology | Icelandic glaciers | Iceland Excursion | Climate in Iceland | Utanlandsferd 2005 | Utanlandsferd 2007 | Geology of Thingvellir | Saga lifs og lands | Lagarfljot Project | Eyjabakkajokull Project | Kalahari | Ritgerdir nemenda | Visindavefur

This site was last updated 02/07/05