Coastal dune dynamics along the northern Curonian Spit, Lithuania: toward an integrated database

Albertas Bitinas, Nikita Dobrotin, Ilya V. Buynevich, Anatoly Molodkov, Aldona Damušytė, Donatas Pupienis


Sand dunes are the most prominent subjects of geological and geomorphological interest along the Curonian Spit – a mega-barrier that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. To date, an assessment of various parameters of migrating dunes along the spit has been based on comparative analysis of old maps or aerial and satellite images, as well as geodetic measurements. These investigations have allowed assessment of dune dynamics over a relatively short historical period (~1700s to present). The most recent detailed investigations of the Dead (Grey) Dunes along the Lithuanian part of the spit using ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and magnetic susceptibility (MS) surveys, supported by a radiocarbon (14C) chronological framework of palaeosols and infrared optically stimulated luminescence (IR-OSL) ages of sand horizons, have advanced our understanding of aeolian landscape evolution. The interpretation of dune activity and stability phases has been generally based on IR-OSL dating results of the sand layers located between radiocarbon-dated palaeosols. However, the influence of soil-forming processes on the IR-OSL dating results related to possible migration of natural radioactive isotopes via aeolian sand layers has not been previously considered. Hypotheses of dune reactivation and migration caused by abrupt regional climate shifts, catastrophic forest fires, anthropogenic influence, and more local forcings have been tested. An integrated approach to dune investigations has offered an estimate of the rates of sand accumulation and key phases of aeolian dynamics during both stormy and calm periods, as well as helped to extend the record of dune evolution to the mid-Holocene. The palaeoenvironmental and palaeodynamic reconstructions of the Dead Dunes suggest that this mid-Holocene phase of dune activity was of a local character and likely did not exceed several centuries.


paleosols; ground-penetrating radar (GPR); IR-OSL; radiocarbon; magnetic susceptibility

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