West Antarctica combines one of the largest active rift systems with one of the largest ice sheets on Earth. Complete melting of the West Antarctic Ice-Sheet (WAIS) would result in a global sea level rise of about 5 m. Understanding ice-sheet dynamics is of major importance for predicting future deglaciation processes in Antarctica. Generally, it is assumed that the geodynamic activity of Western Antarctica as the cradle of the WAIS exerts a strong influence on ice sheet dynamics, but coupling and feedback mechanisms are poorly understood. This project aims to apply geophysical and thermochronological methods for unravelling the geodynamic evolution of Marie Byrd Land (West Antarctica) in terms of crustal structure, exhumation and erosion rates, fault activities, and (paleo-)geothermal gradient. Furthermore, we will use cosmogenic nuclide analysis for reconstructing thinning rates and glacial retreat in Marie Byrd Land. The combination of both data sets provides information on spatial and temporal correlations of geodynamic activity and ice-sheet evolution. Here, we show first results of apatite dating from samples collected in Pine Island Bay during RV Polarstern expedition ANT-XXVI/3 (2010).
Helmholtz Research Programs > PACES I (2009-2013) > TOPIC 3: Lessons from the Past > WP 3.2: Tectonic, Climate and Biosphere Development from Greenhouse to Icehouse