Coastal oceanographic conditions in the Prydz Bay region (East Antarctica) during the Holocene recorded in an isolation basin
Information on East Antarctic coastal environments during the Holocene is relatively sparse. This is surprising as sedimentary records from the interface between land and sea can provide chronologies of climatic change, isostatic uplift, relative sea level and the colonization of newly formed biomes. Here we examine a sediment core from Pup Lagoon, a coastal lake in the Larsemann Hills, East Antarctica. Sediment stratigraphy, fossil pigments and diatoms were used to infer the sequence of Holocene environmental and climatic change. Results show that between 5800 and 5500 cal. yr BP the marine coast of Prydz Bay was characterized by stratified, open-water conditions during spring and summer and seasonally warm conditions. From 5500 to 2750 cal. yr BP sea-ice duration in Prydz Bay increased with the coast being ice-free for 2-3 months each year, conditions which are similar to the present day. A return to stratified, open-water conditions and a reduction in winter sea-ice extent between 2750 and 2200 cal. yr BP is signalled by enhanced biogenic production and more open-water diatom taxa. This is consistent with evidence for the mid-Holocene Hypsithermal detected in other records in East Antarctica. Isostatic isolation of the Pup Lagoon basin from the sea between 2200 and 2000 cal. yr BP slightly precedes the emergence of lakes with comparable sill heights from the nearby Vestfold Hills. The colonization of Pup Lagoon after its isolation as a freshwater lake was initiated by a siliceous flora dominated by stomatocysts with microbial mat development being prevented by mechanical or physical stress. A brief period of marine incursion following the mid-Holocene Hypsithermal may be related to local events such as iceberg calving or to minor sea-level change. Weighted averaging regression, used to infer salinity in the lacustrine zone, shows that from 1500 cal. yr BP Pup Lagoon is a freshwater lake, where the flora is dominated by stratified cyanobacterial mats, with green algae and diatoms as co-dominants, comparable to modem Pup Lagoon and other lakes in the Larsemann Hills.