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The aeolian sand project

Aeolian deposits in Sweden and Norway: an unexplored environmental archive

Swedish aeolian deposits contain a record of environmental change that is largely unused. By investigating deposits such as inland dunes and determining their age, a better understanding of aeolian systems in formerly glaciated areas can be gained, causes for sand drift in the past can be determined and the qualitative and quantitative effect of aeolian processes on the landscape evaluated.

The purpose of this project is to study the aeolian record at selected sites in southern and central Sweden and Norway to determine the timing and magnitude of late glacial and Holocene wind activity and to identify trigger factors in different aeolian settings. With absolute dating, we will be able to correlate our data with other regional, hemispheric or global records of environmental change, and explore the interplay between aeolian systems and environmental factors in formerly glaciated areas.

In addition to using existing maps and literature, we map aeolian deposits using LiDAR-based digital elevation models. We investigate the internal structure of dunes by ground-penetrating radar and study the stratigraphy and sedimentological structures in existing exposures or hand-dug pits. Our chronological tools are optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating and radiocarbon dating.

Cross-section in dune in Dalarna.
One of the dunes at Bonäsheden, Dalarna.

Main project members

Helena Alexanderson (project leader), Martin Bernhardson (PhD student), Edyta Kalińska-Nartiša (postdoc) and Sara Florén (lab assistant) (Lund University)

Mona Henriksen (lecturer), Leif V. Jakobsen (research engineer) (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)


The project is funded by the Geological Survey of Sweden (SGU). Additional funding for pilot projects and related studies have come from the Crafoord Foundation and the Royal Physiographic Society in Lund. OSL dating is carried out at the Lund Luminescence Laboratory. The GPR equipment we use comes from the Department of Environmental Sciences at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Map of sites.
Sites that have been/are being (red) or will be (blue) investigated in this project.
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