Miocene Antarctic ice dynamics in the Ross Embayment (Western Ross Sea, Antarctica): Insights from provenance analyses of sedimentary clasts in the AND-2A drill core

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Abstract

A detailed study of gravel-size sedimentary clasts in the ANDRILL-2A (AND-2A) drill core reveals distinct changes in provenance and allows reconstructions to be produced of the paleo ice flow in the McMurdo Sound region (Ross Sea) from the Early Miocene to the Holocene. The sedimentary clasts in AND-2A are divided into seven distinct petrofacies. A comparison of these with potential source rocks from the Transantarctic Mountains and the coastal Southern Victoria Land suggests that the majority of the sedimentary clasts were derived from formations within the Devonian-Triassic Beacon Supergroup. The siliciclastic-carbonate petrofacies are similar to the fossiliferous erratics found in the Quaternary Moraine in the southern McMurdo Sound and were probably sourced from Eocene strata that are currently hidden beneath the Ross Ice Shelf. Intraformational clasts were almost certainly reworked from diamictite and mudstone sequences that were originally deposited proximal to the drill site. The distribution of sedimentary gravel clasts in AND-2A suggests that sedimentary sequences in the drill core were deposited under two main glacial scenarios: 1) a highly dynamic ice sheet that did not extend beyond the coastal margin and produced abundant debris-rich icebergs from outlet glaciers in the central Transantarctic Mountains and South Victoria Land; 2) and an ice sheet that extended well beyond the coastal margin and periodically advanced across the Ross Embayment. Glacial scenario 1 dominated the early to mid-Miocene (between ca. 1000 and 225 mbsf in AND-2A) and scenario 2 the early Miocene (between ca. 1138 and 1000 mbsf) and late Neogene to Holocene (above ca. 225 mbsf). This study augments previous research on the clast provenance and highlights the added value that sedimentary clasts offer in terms of reconstructing past glacial conditions from Antarctic drill core records.

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Cornamusini, G., & Talarico, F. M. (2016). Miocene Antarctic ice dynamics in the Ross Embayment (Western Ross Sea, Antarctica): Insights from provenance analyses of sedimentary clasts in the AND-2A drill core. Global and Planetary Change, 146, 38–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2016.09.001

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