Antarctic topography at the Eocene-Oligocene boundary
We present a reconstruction of the Antarctic topography at the Eocene–Oligocene (ca. 34 Ma) climate transition. This provides a realistic key boundary condition for modeling the first big Antarctic ice sheets at this time instead of using the present day bedrock topography, which has changed significantly from millions of years of tectonism and erosion. We reconstruct topography using a set of tools including ice sheet-erosion models, models of thermal subsidence and plate movement. Erosion estimates are constrained with offshore sediment volumes estimated from seismic stratigraphy. Maximum and minimum topographic reconstructions are presented as indicators of the range of uncertainty. Our results point to a significant upland area in the Ross Sea/Marie Byrd Land and Weddell Sea sectors. In addition, East Antarctic coastal troughs are much shallower than today due to the restoration of material that has been selectively eroded by the evolving ice sheets. Parts of East Antarctica have not changed since the E–O boundary because they were protected under non-erosive cold-based ice. The reconstructions provide a better-defined boundary condition for modeling that seeks to understand interaction between the Antarctic ice sheet and climate, along with more robust estimates of past ice volumes under a range of orbital settings and greenhouse gas concentrations.
Authors: Wilson, Douglas S., Jamieson, Stewart S.R., Barrett, Peter J., Leitchenkov, German, Gohl, Karsten, Larter, Robert D.