Early glacial maximum and deglaciation at sub-Antarctic Marion Island from cosmogenic 36Cl exposure dating

Southern Hemisphere glacial chronologies can provide valuable insights into interactions between glaciation and past climate changes, but are not well constrained on most sub-Antarctic islands. We present the first cosmogenic 36Cl exposure ages of deglaciated bedrock surfaces and moraine deposits from sub-Antarctic Marion Island in the southern Indian Ocean. Results show that the ice reached a local Last Glacial Maximum before 34 ka and retreated, with no re-advances, but possibly minor stand stills, until ∼17 ka. This early deglaciation left island surfaces below 850 m a.s.l. ice-free after ∼19 ka, and any subsequent advances during the Antarctic Cold Reversal or Holocene cooling periods would have been restricted to the interior. This glacial chronology is similar to that of some other sub-Antarctic Islands (e.g. the Kerguelen archipelago, Auckland and Campbell islands, and possibly South Georgia) and a number of other Southern Hemisphere glaciers (e.g. in Patagonia and New Zealand) and adds to evidence that suggest the Southern Hemisphere was in a glacial maxima earlier than the global LGM. We suggest a combination of declining temperatures, a northward migration of oceanic fronts and the Southern Hemisphere westerly winds (causing precipitation changes), as well as the physiography of Marion Island, created optimal conditions for glacier growth during Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 instead of MIS 2. Our findings redefine the glacial history of Marion Island, and have implications for future investigations on post-glacial landscape development and ecological succession.


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Authors: Rudolph, Elizabeth M., Hedding, David W., Fabel, Derek, Hodgson, Dominic A. ORCIDORCID record for Dominic A. Hodgson, Gheorghiu, Delia M., Shanks, Richard, Nel, Werner

On this site: Dominic Hodgson
1 March, 2020
Quaternary Science Reviews / 231
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