Cenozoic climate history from seismic reflection and drilling studies on the Antarctic continental margin
Seismic stratigraphic studies and scientific drilling of the Antarctic continental margin have yielded clues to the evolution of Cenozoic climates, depositional paleoenvironments and paleoceanographic conditions. This paper draws on studies of the former Antarctic Offshore Stratigraphy Project and others to review the geomorphic and lithostratigraphic offshore features that give insights into the long-duration (m.y.) and short-term (k.y.) changes that document the great variability of Cenozoic Antarctic paleoenvironments. The lithologic drilling record documents non-glacial (pre-early Eocene) to full-glacial (late Pliocene to Holocene) times, and documents times of cyclic ice-sheet fluctuations at k.y. scales (early Miocene to Pliocene and Holocene). Times of significant change in types and/or amounts of glaciation are also seen in the offshore lithologic record (early Oligocene, mid-Miocene, early Pliocene). Seismic data illustrate large-scale geomorphic features that point to massive sediment erosion and dispersal by ice sheets and paleoceanographic processes (e.g. cross-shelf troughs, slope-fans, rise-drifts). The commonality of these features to East and West Antarctica since late Eocene time points to a continent that has been intermittently covered, partially to completely, by glaciers and ice sheets. The greatest advances in our understanding of paleoenvironments and the processes that control them have been achieved from scientific drilling, and future progress depends on a continuation of such drilling.
Authors: Cooper, A.K., Brancolini, G., Escutia, C., Kristoffersen, Y., Larter, Robert D., Leitchenkov, G., O'Brien, P.E., Jokat, W.