Flow of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet on the continental margin of the Bellingshausen Sea at the Last Glacial Maximum

Geophysical data show that during the last glaciation the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) drained to the continental shelf edge of the Bellingshausen Sea through a cross-shelf bathymetric trough (Belgica Trough) as a grounded, fast flowing, ice stream. The drainage basin feeding this ice stream probably encompassed southwestern Palmer Land, parts of southern Alexander Island, and the Bryan Coast of Ellsworth Land, with an area exceeding 200,000 km2. On the inner continental shelf, streamlined bedrock and drumlins mapped by swath bathymetry show that the ice stream was fed by convergent ice flow draining from Eltanin Bay and bays to the east, as well as by ice draining the southern part of the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet through the Ronne Entrance. The presence of a paleoice stream in Belgica Trough is indicated by megascale glacial lineations formed in soft till and a trough mouth fan on the continental margin. Grounding zone wedges on the inner and midshelf record ice marginal stillstands during deglaciation and imply a staggered pattern of ice sheet retreat. These new data indicate an extensive WAIS at the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) on the Bellingshausen Sea continental margin, which advanced to the shelf edge. In conjunction with ice sheet reconstructions from the Antarctic Peninsula and Pine Island Bay, this implies a regionally extensive ice sheet configuration during the LGM along the Antarctic Peninsula, Bellingshausen Sea, and Amundsen Sea margins, with fast flowing ice streams draining the WAIS and Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet to the continental shelf edge.


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Authors: O Cofaigh, Colm, Larter, Rob D. ORCIDORCID record for Rob D. Larter, Dowdeswell, Julian A., Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter ORCIDORCID record for Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Pudsey, Carol J., Evans, Jeffrey, Morris, Peter

On this site: Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Robert Larter
1 January, 2005
Journal of Geophysical Research / 110
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