A major glacial-interglacial change in aeolian dust composition inferred from Rare Earth Elements in Antarctic ice

Anna.Wegner [ at ] awi.de


We present the first Rare Earth Elements (REE) concentration record determined in 294 sections of an Antarctic ice core (EPICA Dome C), covering a period from 2.9 to 33.7 kyr BP. REE allow a detailed quantitative evaluation of aeolian dust composition because of the large number of variables (i.e. 14 elements). REE concentrations match the particulate dust concentration profile over this period and show a homogeneous crustal-like composition during the last glacial stage (LGS), with only a slight enrichment in medium REE. This signature is consistent with the persistent fallout of a mixture of dust from heterogeneous sources located in different areas or within the same region (e.g. South America). Starting at w15 kyr BP, there was a major change in dust composition, the variable character of which persisted throughout the Holocene. This varying signature may highlight the alternation of single dust contributions from different sources during the Holocene. We observe that the frequent changes in REE composition at the onset of the Holocene (1013.5 kyr BP) are linked to dust size and in turn to wind strength and/or the path of the atmospheric trajectory. This may indicate that atmospheric circulation dictated the composition of the dust fallout to East Antarctica at that time. Although the dust concentrations remained fairly low, a notable return towards more glacial dust characteristics is recorded between 7.5 and 8.3 kyr BP. This happened concomitantly with a widespread cold event around 8 kyr BP that was 400600 years long and suggests a moderate reactivation of the dust emission from the same potential source areas of the LGS.

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Gabrielli, P. , Wegner, A. , Petit, J. R. , Delmonte, B. , De Deckker, P. , Gaspari, V. , Fischer, H. , Ruth, U. , Kriews, M. , Boutron, C. , Cescon, P. and Barbante, C. (2010): A major glacial-interglacial change in aeolian dust composition inferred from Rare Earth Elements in Antarctic ice , Quaternary Science Reviews, 29 , pp. 265-273 .

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