Evidence for the maximum extent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in the easternmost Amundsen Sea Embayment during the Last Glacial Maximum


Contact
gerhard.kuhn [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

We present the first age control and sedimentological data for the upper part of a stratified seismic unit that is unusually thick (~6-9 m) for the outer shelf of the ASE and overlies an acoustically transparent unit. The transparent unit probably consists of soft till deposited during the last advance of grounded ice onto the outer shelf. We mapped subtle mega-scale glacial lineations (MSGL) on the seafloor and suggest that these are probably the expressions of bedforms originally moulded into the surface of the underlying till layer. We note that the lineations are less distinct when compared to MSGLs recorded in bathymetric data collected further upstream and suggest that this is because of the blanketing influence of the thick overlying drape. The uppermost part (≤ 3 m) of the stratified drape was sampled by two of our sediment cores and contains sufficient amounts of calcareous foraminifera throughout to establish reliable age models by radiocarbon dating. In combination with facies analysis of the recovered sediments the obtained radiocarbon dates suggest deposition of the draping unit in a sub-ice shelf/sub-sea ice to seasonal-open marine environment that existed on the outer shelf from well before the Last Glacial Maximum (>45 ka BP) until today. This indicates the maximum extent of grounded ice at the LGM must have been situated south of the two core locations, where a well-defined grounding-zone wedge (‘GZWa’) was deposited. The third sediment core was recovered from the toe of this wedge and retrieved grounding-line proximal glaciogenic debris flow sediments that were deposited by ~14 cal. ka BP. Our new data therefore provide direct evidence for 1) the maximum extent of grounded ice in the easternmost ASE at the LGM (=GZWa), 2) the existence of a large shelf area seawards the wedge that was not covered by grounded ice during that time, and 3) landward grounding line retreat from GZWa prior to ~14 cal. ka BP. This knowledge will help to improve LGM ice sheet reconstructions and to quantify precisely the volume of LGM ice-sheet build-up in Antarctica. Our study also alludes to the possibility that refugia for Antarctic shelf benthos may have existed in the ASE during the last glacial period.



Item Type
Conference (Poster)
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Divisions
Primary Division
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Primary Topic
Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Published
Event Details
Annual Meeting of The Geological Society of America, 01 Nov 2015 - 04 Nov 2015, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Eprint ID
39017
Cite as
Klages, J. P. , Kuhn, G. , Hillenbrand, C. D. , Smith, J. A. , Graham, A. G. C. , Gohl, K. and Wacker, L. (2015): Evidence for the maximum extent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet in the easternmost Amundsen Sea Embayment during the Last Glacial Maximum , Annual Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 1 November 2015 - 4 November 2015 .


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