Detecting Holocene retreat and readvance in the Amundsen Sea sector of Antarctica: assessing the suitability of sites near Pine Island Glacier for subglacial bedrock drilling [in review]

Unambiguous identification of past episodes of ice sheet thinning below the modern surface and grounding line retreat inboard of present requires recovery and exposure dating of subglacial bedrock. Such efforts are needed to understand the significance and potential future reversibility of ongoing and projected change in Antarctica. Here we evaluate the suitability for subglacial bedrock recovery drilling of sites in the Hudson Mountains, in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica. We use an ice sheet model and field data − geological observations, glaciological observations and bedrock samples from nunataks, and ground-penetrating radar from subglacial ridges − to rate each site against four key criteria: i) presence of ridges extending below the ice sheet, ii) likelihood of increased exposure of those ridges if the grounding line was inboard of present, iii) suitability of bedrock for drilling and geochemical analysis, and iv) accessibility for aircraft and drilling operations. Our results demonstrate that although no site in the Hudson Mountains is perfect for this study when assessed against all criteria, Winkie Nunatak (74.86° S / 99.77° W) is suitable. The accessibility, N-S orientation and basaltic bedrock lithology of its southernmost ridge make the nunatak a feasible site both for drilling and subsequent cosmogenic nuclide analysis. Furthermore, it is strewn with erratic cobbles at all elevations, providing constraints on the earlier Holocene deglacial history and time at which the ice sheet surface reached its present elevation. Such information is necessary for determining the maximum duration over which any Holocene grounding line readvance could have occurred.


Publication status:
Published Online
Authors: Johnson, Joanne S. ORCIDORCID record for Joanne S. Johnson, Woodward, John, Nesbitt, Ian, Winter, Kate, Campbell, Seth, Nichols, Keir A., Venturelli, Ryan A., Braddock, Scott, Goehring, Brent M., Hall, Brenda, Rood, Dylan H., Balco, Greg

On this site: Joanne Johnson
12 June, 2024
The Cryosphere: Discussions
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