Sedimentological distinction in glacigenic sediments between load casts induced by periglacial processes from those induced by seismic shocks

Antonius Johannes Van Loon, Małgorzata Pisarska-Jamroży, Barbara Woronko


Loading processes and the resulting load structures induced by processes related to periglacial conditions are compared to those induced by seismic shocks. The load structures themselves are relatively easily recognizable but the responsible trigger mechanism is, though depending on the geological context, commonly difficult to establish. Load structures like load casts, pseudonodules, ball-and-pillow structures and flame structures are commonly ascribed to instable density gradients within sediments and to differential loading, but their formation always requires liquefaction. In glacigenic sediments, deformation structures have most commonly been ascribed to periglacial processes (as a type of cryoturbations), but it becomes ever more clear that glacigenic sediments can, particularly during ice-front fluctuations, be affected by faulting-related earthquakes (due to glacio-isostatic adjustment), and the thus triggered seismic shocks may result in deformations, including – most commonly – load structures. We inventory the evidence that may help to distinguish, on the basis of textural and structural features, load structures with a seismic origin from those that result from periglacial processes, taking into account that truly diagnostic criteria do not exist.


load casts; pseudonodules; cryoturbation; soft-sediment deformation structures; seismites

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