Inferring sites of subglacial erosion using the Pb isotopic composition of ice-rafted feldspar: Examples from the Weddell Sea, Antarctica
The delivery of ice-rafted debris (IRD) from glaciated margins is a function of ice sheet dynamics. Shifts in supply and sourcing of IRD can therefore identify episodes of ice sheet instability; however, records can be difficult to correctly interpret because the subglacial geology of the catchment areas, which controls IRD composition, may be obscured. Importantly, variations can also result from shifts in erosion sites due to changes in the basal ice sheet conditions. This study evaluates where subglacial erosion has occurred in catchments that flow into the southern Weddell Sea, Antarctica, by determining the Pb isotopic compositions of individual ice-rafted feldspars from late Holocene marine sediments. Feldspar compositions match those of rock units inferred (through extrapolation of outcrop, magnetic, and gravity data) to compose areas where ice velocity, bed roughness, and shear stress are high. Significantly, signals from areas where ice velocities are high but bed roughness and shear stresses are low were not recorded, suggesting that there is reduced bedrock erosion in these regions. Major variations in IRD composition in the Weddell Sea can result from changing the loci of subglacial erosion, and do not necessarily correspond with major ice sheet instability.
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