Late Quaternary iceberg rafting along the Antarctic Peninsula continental rise and in the Weddell and Scotia Seas

Sediment cores from the continentalrise west of the AntarcticPeninsula and the northern Weddell and ScotiaSeas were investigated for their ice-rafted debris (IRD) content by lithofacies logging and counting of particles >0.2 cm from core x-radiographs. The objective of the study was to determine if there are iceberg-rafted units similar to the Heinrich layers of the North Atlantic that might record periodic, widespread catastrophic collapse of basins within the Antarctic Ice Sheet during the Quaternary. Cores from the AntarcticPeninsula margin contain prominent IRD-rich units, with maximum IRD concentrations in oxygen isotope stages 1, 5, and 7. However, the greater concentration of IRD in interglacial stages is the result of low sedimentation rates and current winnowing, rather than regional-scale episodes of increased icebergrafting. This is also supported by markedly lower mass accumulation rates (MAR) during interglacial periods versus glacial periods. Furthermore, thinner IRD layers within isotope stages 2–4 and 6 cannot be correlated between individual cores along the margin. This implies that the ice sheet over the AntarcticPeninsula did not undergo widespread catastrophic collapse along its western margin during the lateQuaternary (isotope stages 1–7). Sediment cores from the Weddell and ScotiaSeas are characterized by low IRD concentrations throughout, and the IRD signal generally appears to be of limited regional significance with few strong peaks that can be correlated between cores. Tentatively, this argues against pervasive, rapid ice-sheet collapse around the Weddell embayment over the last few glacial cycles.


Publication status:
Authors: Ó Cofaigh, Colm, Dowdeswell, Julian A., Pudsey, Carol J.

1 January, 2001
Quaternary Research / 56
Link to published article: