History of the Anvers-Hugo Trough, western Antarctic Peninsula shelf, since the Last Glacial Maximum. Part II: Palaeo-productivity and palaeoceanographic changes during the Last Glacial Transition

Following the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ca. 23-19 calibrated [cal.] kyr before present [BP]), atmospheric and oceanic warming, together with global sea-level rise, drove widespread deglaciation of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, increasing the flux of freshwater to the ocean and leading to substantial changes in marine biological productivity. On the Antarctic continental shelf, periods of elevated biological productivity, often preserved in the sediment record as laminated (and sometimes varved) diatomaceous oozes (LDO), have been reported from several locations and are typically associated with the formation of calving bay re-entrants during ice sheet retreat. Understanding what drives the formation and deposition of LDOs, and the impact of deglacial processes on biogenic productivity more generally, can help inform how Antarctic coastal environments will respond to current and future ice sheet melting. In this study we utilise a suite of sediment cores recovered from Anvers-Hugo Trough (AHT), western Antarctic Peninsula shelf, which documents the transition from subglacial to glacimarine conditions following retreat of an expanded ice stream after the LGM. We present quantitative absolute diatom abundance (ADA) and species assemblage data, to investigate changes in biological productivity during the Last Glacial Transition (19-11 cal kyr BP). In combination with radiocarbon dating, we show that seasonally open marine conditions were established on the mid-shelf by 13.6 cal kyr BP, but LDOs did not start to accumulate until ∼11.5 cal kyr BP. The ∼1.4 kyr delay between the onset of seasonally open marine conditions and LDO deposition indicates that physiographic changes, and specifically the establishment of a calving bay in AHT, is insufficient to explain LDO deposition alone. LDO deposition in AHT coincides with the early Holocene climatic optimum (∼11.5 – 9.0 kyr) and is therefore explained in terms of increased atmospheric/ocean temperatures, high rates of sea and glacial ice melt and the formation of a well-stratified water column in the austral spring. An implication of our study is that extensive bathymetric mapping in conjunction with detailed core analyses is required to reliably infer environmental controls on LDO deposition.


Publication status:
Authors: Roseby, Zoë A. ORCIDORCID record for Zoë A. Roseby, Smith, James A. ORCIDORCID record for James A. Smith, Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter ORCIDORCID record for Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Allen, Claire S. ORCIDORCID record for Claire S. Allen, Leventer, Amy, Hogan, Kelly ORCIDORCID record for Kelly Hogan, Cartigny, Matthieu J.B., Rosenheim, Brad E., Kuhn, Gerhard, Larter, Robert D. ORCIDORCID record for Robert D. Larter

On this site: Claire Allen, Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, James Smith, Kelly Hogan, Robert Larter, Zoe Roseby
1 September, 2022
Quaternary Science Reviews / 294
Link to published article: