Glacial-interglacial cycles in detrital sediment supply to the Amundsen Sea: Implications for West Antarctic Ice Sheet dynamics during the Late Pleistocene

gerhard.kuhn [ at ]


The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) plays a key role in the global climate system and its collapse could contribute up to 4.3 m of sea-level rise. Mass loss of this marine-based ice sheet is largely caused by ocean-driven melting of ice shelves. This is confimed by modern observational data which show significant glacier thinning and retreat of grounding lines, particularly in the Amundsen Sea area. We here apply an integrated approach to determine provenance of marine sediments, which enables us to trace erosion of different bedrock lithologies, ultimately tied to the location of the eroding ice through time. We present provenance analysis on detrital Holocene seafloor sediments from the Amundsen Sea Embayment as well as from two marine cores PS58/254 (69°19´S, 108°27´W) and PC493 (71°09´S, 119°57´W), located on the continental rise of the Amundsen Sea and covering glacial-interglacial cycles of the past 800 kyrs. We use strontium (Sr) and neodymium (Nd) isotopic compositions of fine terrigenous grains (<63μm), and 40Ar/39Ar ages on ice-rafted (>150μm) hornblende and biotite grains. Our Holocene mapping results reveal drainage pathways with distinct signatures in the eastern and western Amundsen Sea Embayment. The western embayment records a homogenous provenance signature, pointing to a local source area in the hinterland, while the eastern embayment shows a range of compositions indicating erosion of the eastern coastal margin and a distinct, but unexposed source lithology under Pine Island Glacier and/or its drainage basin. Systematic isotope variations are detected between glacial and interglacial stages in both downcore records. Core PS58/254 exhibits a radiogenic fingerprint throughout the Late Pleistocene and systematic glacial-interglacial fluctuations in the order of three εNd units. They correlate with physical properties of the sediments (i.e. magnetic susceptibility) and trend towards lower values during interglacials, notably during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 and MIS 7. Core PC493 exhibits similar radiogenic Nd isotope composition, but a slightly reduced magnitude of glacial-interglacial changes. Detailed analysis of our results will offer a framework for interpreting sediment records from the area, including those from a recent MeBo expedition (PS104) and upcoming IODP expedition 379.

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Conference (Poster)
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American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2017, 11 Dec 2017 - 15 Dec 2017, New Orleans.
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Simoes Pereira, P. , van de Flierdt, T. , Hillenbrand, C. D. , Hemming, S. R. and Kuhn, G. (2017): Glacial-interglacial cycles in detrital sediment supply to the Amundsen Sea: Implications for West Antarctic Ice Sheet dynamics during the Late Pleistocene , American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2017, New Orleans, 11 December 2017 - 15 December 2017 .

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