Late Cretaceous–Cenozoic climatic variations of the northern Antarctic Peninsula: new geochemical evidence and review
Aptian to Pliocene time-series of X-ray fluorescence data from the Antarctic Peninsula are used to assess the degree of chemical weathering and maturity of sediments deposited prior, and subsequent to the establishment of glaciation in West Antarctica. A continuous palaeoclimatic signal is inferred from comparing the results with previously published palaeotemperature and palaeobotanical data. Aptian–Cenomanian (warm/cool), and Santonian–Early Paleocene (warm/cold) cycles were followed by the global Late Paleocene–Early Eocene climatic optimum. Subsequent steady decline in temperatures resulted in glacial conditions in the northern Antarctic Peninsula by Early Oligocene time. Under alternating Cenozoic frigid/cold climates and in sedimentary regimes dominated by physical weathering, geochemical signatures were primarily indicative of provenance. The development of Cretaceous arboreal vegetation in the northern Antarctic Peninsula can be correlated with the major climatic cycles.