Last glacial maximum sediment record of the southern Weddell Sea shelf


Abstract: The history of grounded ice-sheet extent on the southern Weddell Sea shelf during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the timing of post-LGM ice-sheet retreat are poorly constrained. Several glaciological models reconstructed widespread grounding and major thickening of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in the Weddell Sea sector at the LGM. In contrast, recently published onshore data and modelling results concluded only very limited LGM-thickening of glaciers and ice streams feeding into the modern Filchner and Ronne ice shelves. These studies concluded that during the LGM ice shelves rather than grounded ice covered the Filchner and Ronne troughs, two deep palaeo-ice stream troughs eroded into the southern Weddell Sea shelf.Here we review previously published and unpublished marine geophysical and geological data from the southern Weddell Sea shelf. The stratigraphy and geometry of reflectors in acoustic sub-bottom profiles are similar to those from other West Antarctic palaeo-ice stream troughs, where grounded ice had advanced to the shelf break at the LGM. Numerous cores from the southern Weddell Sea shelf recovered sequences with properties typical for subglacially deposited tills or subglacially compacted sediments. These data sets give evidence that grounded ice had advanced across the shelf during the past, thereby grounding in even the deepest parts of the Filchner and Ronne troughs. Radiocarbon dates from glaciomarine sediments overlying the subglacial deposits are limited, but indicate that the ice grounding occurred at the LGM and that ice retreat started before ~15.1 corrected 14C kyrs before present (BP) on the outer shelf and before ~7.7 corrected 14C kyrs BP on the inner shelf, which is broadly synchronous with ice retreat in other Antarctic sectors.The apparent mismatch between the ice-sheet reconstructions from marine and terrestrial data can be attributed to ice streams with very low surface profiles (similar to those of "ice plains") that had advanced through Filchner Trough and Ronne Trough at the LGM. Considering the global sea-level lowstand of ~130 metres below present, a low surface slope of the expanded LGM-ice sheet in the southern Weddell Sea can reconcile grounding-line advance to the shelf break with limited thickening of glaciers and ice streams in the hinterland. This scenario implies that ice-sheet growth in the Weddell Sea sector during the LGM and ice-sheet drawdown throughout the last deglaciation could only have made minor contributions to the major global sea-level fluctuations during these times.

Supplement to: Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter; Melles, Martin; Kuhn, Gerhard; Larter, Robert D (2012): Marine geological constraints for the grounding-line position of the Antarctic Ice Sheet on the southern Weddell Sea shelf at the Last Glacial Maximum. Quaternary Science Reviews, 32, 25-47

Related Identifier IsSupplementTo
Metadata Access
Creator Hillenbrand, Claus-Dieter ORCID logo; Melles, Martin ORCID logo; Kuhn, Gerhard ORCID logo; Larter, Robert D ORCID logo
Publisher PANGAEA
Publication Year 2011
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported;
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Supplementary Publication Series of Datasets; Collection
Format application/zip
Size 2 datasets
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (-61.322W, -78.088S, -25.717E, -73.486N); Weddell Sea; Filchner Trough; Filchner Shelf; Gould Bay; Cape Fiske
Temporal Coverage Begin 1968-01-01T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 1988-02-01T11:33:00Z