A glacial chronology for sub-Antarctic Marion Island from MIS 2 and MIS 3

It is increasingly apparent that local and regional factors, including geographic location, topography and climatic variability, strongly influence the timing and extent of glaciations across the Southern Hemisphere. Glacial chronologies of sub-Antarctic islands can provide valuable insights into the nature of regional climatic variability and the localised response(s) of glacial systems during periods of climatic change. With new cosmogenic 36Cl exposure ages from Marion Island in the southern Indian Ocean, we provide the oldest dated terrestrial moraine sequences for the sub-Antarctic islands. Results confirm that a local Last Glacial Maximum was reached prior to ∼56 ka when ice retreated with localised stand still events at ∼43 ka and between ∼38 and 33 ka. Evidence of ice re-advances throughout MIS 2 are limited and particularly absent for the cooling periods at ∼32 and ∼21 ka, and retreat continued until ∼17 ka ago. Any MIS 1 readvances on the island would be confined to altitudes above 900 m a.s.l. but the Holocene exposure ages remains to be documented. We compare Marion Island's glacial chronology with other sub-Antarctic islands (e.g., the Kerguelen archipelago, Auckland and Campbell islands and South Georgia) and review the evidence for a Southern Hemisphere glacial maximum in late MIS 3 (∼41 ka). At a regional scale we recognize sea surface temperatures, sea ice extent and the latitudinal position of the Southern Westerly Wind belt as key controls on equilibrium-line altitudes and ice accumulation due to their influence on air temperature and precipitation regimes. At an island scale, geomorphological mapping shows that deglaciation of individual glacier lobes was a-synchronous due to local physiographical and topographical factors controlling the island's micro-climate. We suggest that variability in deglaciation chronologies at smaller scales (particularly at the sub-Antarctic Islands) are important to consider when untangling climatic drivers across the Southern Ocean.


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Authors: Rudolph, Elizabeth M., Hedding, David W., Hodgson, Dominic A. ORCIDORCID record for Dominic A. Hodgson, Fabel, Derek, Gheorghiu, Delia M., Shanks, Richard, Nel, Werner

On this site: Dominic Hodgson
1 February, 2024
Quaternary Science Reviews / 325
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