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Cosmogenic nuclide exposure age constraints on the glacial history of the Lake Wellman area, Darwin Mountains, Antarctica

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 December 2010

B.C. Storey*
Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
D. Fink
Institute for Environmental Research, ANSTO, PMB1, Menai 2234, Australia
D. Hood
Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
K. Joy
Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
J. Shulmeister
Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, St Lucia 4072, Australia
M. Riger-Kusk
Gateway Antarctica, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
M.I. Stevens
South Australian Museum, SA 5000, and School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, SA 5000, Adelaide, Australia


We present direct terrestrial evidence of ice volume change of the Darwin and Hatherton glaciers which channel ice from the Transantarctic Mountains into the Ross Ice Shelf. Combining glacial geomorphology with cosmogenic exposure ages from 25 erratics indicates a pre-LGM ice volume at least 600 m thicker than current Hatherton ice elevation was established at least 2.2 million years ago. In particular, five erratics spread across a drift deposit at intermediate elevations located below a prominent moraine feature mapped previously as demarcating the LGM ice advance limits, give a well-constrained single population with mean 10Be age of 37.0 ± 5.5 ka (1σ). At lower elevations of 50–100 m above the surface of Lake Wellman, a further five samples from within a younger drift deposit range in exposure age from 1 to 19 ka. Our preferred age model interpretation, which is partly dependent on the selection of a minimum or maximum age-elevation model, suggests that LGM ice volume was not as large as previously estimated and constrains LGM ice elevation to be within ± 50 m of the modern Hatherton Glacier ice surface, effectively little different from what is observed today.

Research Article
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2010

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