Deep water inflow slowed offshore expansion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet at the Eocene-Oligocene transition

The stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is threatened by the incursion of warm Circumpolar Deepwater which flows southwards via cross-shelf troughs towards the coast there melting ice shelves. However, the onset of this oceanic forcing on the development and evolution of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet remains poorly understood. Here, we use single- and multichannel seismic reflection profiles to investigate the architecture of a sediment body on the shelf of the Amundsen Sea Embayment. We estimate the formation age of this sediment body to be around the Eocene-Oligocene Transition and find that it possesses the geometry and depositional pattern of a plastered sediment drift. We suggest this indicates a southward inflow of deep water which probably supplied heat and, thus, prevented West Antarctic Ice Sheet advance beyond the coast at this time. We conclude that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has likely experienced a strong oceanic influence on its dynamics since its initial formation.


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Authors: Uenzelmann-Neben, Gabriele, Gohl, Karsten, Hochmuth, Katharina, Salzmann, Ulrich, Larter, Robert D. ORCIDORCID record for Robert D. Larter, Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter ORCIDORCID record for Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Klages, Johann P., Expedition PS104, Science Team

On this site: Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Robert Larter
21 February, 2022
Communications Earth & Environment / 3
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