New 10Be ages improve Holocene ice sheet thinning history near the grounding line of Pope Glacier, Antarctica

Evidence for the timing and pace of past grounding line retreat of the Thwaites Glacier system in the Amundsen Sea embayment (ASE) of Antarctica provides constraints for models that are used to predict the future trajectory of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). Existing cosmogenic nuclide surface exposure ages suggest that Pope Glacier, a former tributary of Thwaites Glacier, experienced rapid thinning in the early to mid-Holocene. There are relatively few exposure ages from the lower ice-free sections of Mount Murphy (< 300 m asl) that are uncomplicated by either nuclide inheritance or scattering due to localised topographic complexities; this makes the trajectory for the latter stages of deglaciation uncertain. This paper presents 12 new 10Be exposure ages from erratic cobbles collected from the western flank of Mt Murphy, within 160 m of the modern ice surface and 1 km from the present grounding line. The ages comprise two tightly clustered populations with mean deglaciation ages of 7.1 ± 0.1 ka and 6.4 ± 0.1 ka (1SE). Linear regression analysis applied to the age-elevation array of all available exposure ages from Mt Murphy indicates that the median rate of thinning of Pope Glacier was 0.27 m yr-1 between 8.1–6.3 ka, occurring 1.5 times faster than previously thought. Furthermore, this analysis better constrains the uncertainty (95 % confidence interval) in the timing of deglaciation at the base of the Mt Murphy vertical profile (~80 m above the modern ice surface), shifting it to earlier in the Holocene (from 5.2 ± 0.7 ka to 6.3 ± 0.4 ka). Taken together, the results presented here suggest that early–mid Holocene thinning of Pope Glacier occurred over a shorter interval than previously assumed and permit a longer duration over which subsequent late Holocene rethickening could have occurred.


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Published Online
Authors: Adams, Jonathan R., Johnson, Joanne S. ORCIDORCID record for Joanne S. Johnson, Roberts, Stephen J. ORCIDORCID record for Stephen J. Roberts, Mason, Philippa J., Nichols, Keir A., Venturelli, Ryan A., Wilcken, Klaus, Balco, Greg, Goehring, Brent, Hall, Brenda, Woodward, John, Rood, Dylan H.

On this site: Jonathan Adams, Joanne Johnson, Stephen Roberts
5 May, 2022
The Cryosphere: Discussions
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