The last glaciation of Bear Peninsula, central Amundsen Sea Embayment of Antarctica: Constraints on timing and duration revealed by in situ cosmogenic 14C and 10Be dating

Ice streams in the Pine Island-Thwaites region of West Antarctica currently dominate contributions to sea level rise from the Antarctic ice sheet. Predictions of future ice-mass loss from this area rely on physical models that are validated with geological constraints on past extent, thickness and timing of ice cover. However, terrestrial records of ice sheet history from the region remain sparse, resulting in significant model uncertainties. We report glacial-geological evidence for the duration and timing of the last glaciation of Hunt Bluff, in the central Amundsen Sea Embayment. A multi-nuclide approach was used, measuring cosmogenic 10Be and in situ14C in bedrock surfaces and a perched erratic cobble. Bedrock 10Be ages (118–144 ka) reflect multiple periods of exposure and ice-cover, not continuous exposure since the last interglacial as had previously been hypothesized. In situ14C dating suggests that the last glaciation of Hunt Bluff did not start until 21.1 ± 5.8 ka – probably during the Last Glacial Maximum – and finished by 9.6 ± 0.9 ka, at the same time as ice sheet retreat from the continental shelf was complete. Thickening of ice at Hunt Bluff most likely post-dated the maximum extent of grounded ice on the outer continental shelf. Flow re-organisation provides a possible explanation for this, with the date for onset of ice-cover at Hunt Bluff providing a minimum age for the timing of convergence of the Dotson and Getz tributaries to form a single palaeo-ice stream. This is the first time that timing of onset of ice cover has been constrained in the Amundsen Sea Embayment.


Publication status:
Authors: Johnson, Joanne S. ORCIDORCID record for Joanne S. Johnson, Smith, James A. ORCIDORCID record for James A. Smith, Schaefer, Joerg M., Young, Nicolas E., Goehring, Brent M., Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter ORCIDORCID record for Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, Lamp, Jennifer L., Finkel, Robert C., Gohl, Karsten

On this site: Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, James Smith, Joanne Johnson
15 December, 2017
Quaternary Science Reviews / 178
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