Seafloor geomorphology of the Wrigley Gulf shelf, Amundsen Sea, West Antarctica, reveals two different phases of glaciation

Knowledge of the behaviour of marine-based ice sheets during times of climatic warming, such as the last deglaciation, provides important information to understand how ice sheets respond to external forcing. We analysed swath bathymetric and acoustic sub-bottom profiler data from Wrigley Gulf on the western Amundsen Sea shelf, West Antarctica, to identify glacial features and reconstruct past changes in the extent of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and ice flow directions. Glacial bedforms mapped within a bathymetric cross-shelf trough include features showing cross-cutting and overprinting relationship and indicate changes in ice-flow orientation. Here, we distinguish at least two phases of different ice-flow patterns on the Wrigley Gulf shelf. During the earlier phase, seaward ice stream flow on the inner shelf was deflected towards the east due to the existence of an ice dome on the middle-outer continental shelf. Retreat of grounded ice towards the centre of this dome is indicated by the asymmetric cross profile of recessional moraines mapped on the middle shelf. The later glaciation phase was characterized by fast, NNW-directed ice flow across the shelf along a broad front and subsequent stepwise landward retreat, which is evident from the common occurrence and orientation of mega-scale glaciation lineations and grounding zone wedges on the middle-inner shelf. It is uncertain whether the two phases of glaciation recorded on the seafloor occurred during the last and penultimate glacial periods or at different times of the last glaciation. Reliable chronological constraints from sediment cores and additional geomorphological information are needed to understand the cause of the changes in WAIS dynamics reflected by the two ice-flow phases.


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Published Online
Authors: Lee, Jae Il, Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter ORCIDORCID record for Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Wellner, Julia S., Kim, Hyoung Jun, Rhee, Hyun Hee, Yoo, Kyu-Cheul, Kim, Sunghan, Lee, Min Kyung

On this site: Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand
7 May, 2024
Earth Surface Processes and Landforms
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