Skip to main content

Late Quaternary Iceberg Rafting along the Antarctic Peninsula Continental Rise and in the Weddell and Scotia Seas

  • Colm Ó Cofaigh (a1), Julian A. Dowdeswell (a1) and Carol J. Pudsey (a2)

Sediment cores from the continental rise west of the Antarctic Peninsula and the northern Weddell and Scotia Seas were investigated for their ice-rafted debris (IRD) content by lithofacies logging and counting of particles >0.2 cm from core x-radiographs. The objective of the study was to determine if there are iceberg-rafted units similar to the Heinrich layers of the North Atlantic that might record periodic, widespread catastrophic collapse of basins within the Antarctic Ice Sheet during the Quaternary. Cores from the Antarctic Peninsula margin contain prominent IRD-rich units, with maximum IRD concentrations in oxygen isotope stages 1, 5, and 7. However, the greater concentration of IRD in interglacial stages is the result of low sedimentation rates and current winnowing, rather than regional-scale episodes of increased iceberg rafting. This is also supported by markedly lower mass accumulation rates (MAR) during interglacial periods versus glacial periods. Furthermore, thinner IRD layers within isotope stages 2–4 and 6 cannot be correlated between individual cores along the margin. This implies that the ice sheet over the Antarctic Peninsula did not undergo widespread catastrophic collapse along its western margin during the late Quaternary (isotope stages 1–7). Sediment cores from the Weddell and Scotia Seas are characterized by low IRD concentrations throughout, and the IRD signal generally appears to be of limited regional significance with few strong peaks that can be correlated between cores. Tentatively, this argues against pervasive, rapid ice-sheet collapse around the Weddell embayment over the last few glacial cycles.

Hide All
Anderson, J.B Antarctic Marine Geology. (1999). Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge.
Anderson, J.B, and Andrews, J.T Radiocarbon constraints on ice sheet advance and retreat in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica. Geology 27, (1999). 179 182.
Andrews, J.T, Kirby, M, Jennings, A.E, and Barber, D.C Late Quaternary stratigraphy, chronology, and depositional processes on the slope of S. E. Baffin Island, detrital carbonate and Heinrich Events: Implications for onshore glacial history. Géographie Physique et Quaternaire 52, (1998). 1 15.
Bamber, J.L, Vaughan, D.G, and Joughin, I Widespread complex flow in the interior of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Science 287, (2000). 1248 1250.
Bart, P.J, and Anderson, J.B Seismic expression of depositional sequences associated with expansion and contraction of ice sheets on the northwestern Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf. De Batist, M, and Jacobs, P Geology of Siliclastic Shelf Seas. (1996). 171 186.
Bentley, M.J, and Anderson, J.B Glacial and marine geological evidence for the ice sheet configuration in the Weddell Sea-Antarctic Peninsula region during the Last Glacial Maximum. Antarctic Science 10, (1998). 309 325.
Bindschadler, R West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse?. Science 276, (1997). 662 663.
Bond, G, and Lotti, R Iceberg discharges into the North Atlantic on millennial timescales during the last glaciation. Science 267, (1995). 1005 1010.
Bond, G, Heinrich, H, Broecker, W, Labeyrie, L, McManus, J, Andrews, J, Huon, S, Jantschik, R, Clasen, S, Simiet, C, Tedesco, K, Klas, M, Bonani, G, and Ivy, S Evidence for massive discharges of icebergs into the North Atlantic during the last glacial period. Nature 360, (1992). 245 249.
Bonn, W.J, Gingele, F.X, Grobe, H, Mackensen, A, and Fütterer, D.K Paleoproductivity at the Antarctic continental margin: Opal and barium records for the last 400 ka. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology and Palaeoecology 139, (1998). 195 211.
Canals, M, Urgeles, R, and Calafat, A.M Deep sea-floor evidence of past ice streams off the Antarctic Peninsula. Geology 28, (2000). 31 34.
Denton, G.H, Prentice, M.I, and Burckle, L.H Cainozoic history of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Tingey, R.J The Geology of Antarctica. (1991). Clarendon Press, Oxford. 365 433.
Diekmann, B, Kuhn, G, Rachold, V, Abelmann, A, Brathauer, U, Futterer, D.K, Gersonde, R, and Grobe, H Terrigenous sediment supply in the Scotia Sea (Southern Ocean): response to Late Quaternary ice dynamics in Patagonia and on the Antarctic Peninsula. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 162, (2000). 357 387.
Domack, E.W, Jacobson, E.A, Shipp, S, and Anderson, J.B Late Pleistocene-Holocene retreat of the West Antarctic Ice-Sheet system in the Ross Sea: Part 2—Sedimentologic and stratigraphic signature. Geological Society of America Bulletin 111, (1999). 1517 1536.
Dowdeswell, J.A, Maslin, M.A, Andrews, J.T, and McCave, I.N Iceberg production, debris rafting, and the extent and thickness of Heinrich layers (H-1, H-2) in North Atlantic sediments. Geology 23, (1995). 301 304.
Dowdeswell, J.A, Elverhøi, A, and Spielhagen, R Glacimarine sedimentary processes and facies on the Polar North Atlantic margins. Quaternary Science Reviews 17, (1998). 243 272.
Dowdeswell, J.A, Elverhøi, A, Andrews, J.T, and Hebbeln, D Asynchronous deposition of ice-rafted layers in the Nordic seas and North Atlantic Ocean. Nature 400, (1999). 348 351.
Drewry, D. J. (1983). Antarctica: Glaciological and Geophysical Folio. Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge., 4 pp., +9 maps.
Drewry, D.J, and Cooper, A.P.R Processes and models of Antarctic glaciomarine sedimentation. Annals of Glaciology 2, (1981). 117 122.
Drewry, D.J, Jordan, S.R, and Jankowski, E Measured properties of the Antarctic Ice Sheet: Surface configuration, ice thickness and bedrock characteristics. Annals of Glaciology 3, (1982). 83 91.
Frank, M, Eisenhauer, A, Bonn, W.J, Walter, P, Grobe, H, Kubik, P.W, Dittrich-Hannen, B, and Mangini, A Sediment redistribution versus paleoproductivity change: Weddell Sea margin sediment stratigraphy and biogenic particle flux of the last 250,000 years deduced from 230Thex, 10Be and biogenic barium profiles. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 136, (1995). 559 573.
Hays, J.D, Lozano, J.A, Shackleton, N.J, and Irving, G Reconstruction of the Atlantic and western Indian Ocean sectors of the 18,000 B.P. Antarctic Ocean. Cline, R.M, and Hays, J.D Investigation of Late Quaternary Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. (1976). 337 372.
Heinrich, H Origin and consequences of cyclic ice rafting in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean during the past 130,000 years. Quaternary Research 29, (1988). 143 152.
Hesse, R, and Khodabakhsh, S Depositional facies of late Pleistocene Heinrich Events in the Labrador Sea. Geology 26, (1998). 103 106.
Howe, J.A, and Pudsey, C.J Antarctic circumpolar deep water: A Quaternary paleoflow record from the northern Scotia Sea, south Atlantic Ocean. Journal of Sedimentary Research 69, (1999). 847 861.
Howe, J.A, Pudsey, C.J, and Cunningham, A.P Pliocene-Holocene contourite deposition under the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, western Falkland Trough, South Atlantic Ocean. Marine Geology 138, (1997). 27 50.
Kanfoush, S.L, Hodell, D.A, Charles, C.D, Guilderson, T.P, Mortyn, P.G, and Ninnemann, U.S Millennial-scale instability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet during the last glaciation. Science 288, (2000). 1815 1818.
Keys, J.R Ice. Glasby, G.P Antarctic sector of the Pacific. (1990). 95 123.
Larter, R.D, and Vanneste, L.E Relict subglacial deltas on the Antarctic Peninsula outer shelf. Geology 23, (1995). 33 36.
Moreton, S.G Quaternary tephrochronology of the Scotia Sea and Bellingshausen Sea, Antarctica. (1999). Cheltenham & Gloucester College,
Nürnberg, C.C, Bohrmann, G, Schluter, M, and Frank, M Barium accumulation in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean: Results from 190,000-year records. Paleoceanography 12, (1997). 594 603.
Pfirman, S, Gascard, J.-C, Wollenburg, I, Mudie, P, and Abelmann, A Sea ice characteristics and the role of sediment inclusions in deep-sea deposition. Bleil, U, and Thiede, J Geologic History of the Polar Oceans: Arctic versus Antarctic. (1990). Kluwer, Amsterdam. 463 493.
Pope, P.G, and Anderson, J.B Late Quaternary glacial history of the northern Antarctic Peninsula's western continental shelf: Evidence from the marine record. Elliot, D.H Contributions to Antarctic Research III. (1992). American Geophysical Union, Washington. 63 91.
Pudsey, C.J Late Quaternary changes in Antarctic Bottom Water velocity inferred from sediment grain size in the northern Weddell Sea. Marine Geology 107, (1992). 9 33.
Pudsey, C.J Sedimentation on the continental rise west of the Antarctic Peninsula over the last three glacial cycles. Marine Geology 167, (2000). 313 338.
Pudsey, C.J, and Camerlenghi, A Glacial-interglacial deposition on a sediment drift on the Pacific margin of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctic Science 10, (1998). 286 308.
Pudsey, C.J, and Howe, J.A Quaternary history of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current: Evidence from the Scotia Sea. Marine Geology 148, (1998). 83 112.
Pudsey, C.J, Barker, P.F, and Larter, R.D Ice sheet retreat from the Antarctic Peninsula shelf. Continental Shelf Research 14, (1994). 1647 1675.
Pudsey, C. J, Howe, J. A, Morris, P, and Gunn, D. E. (in press), Processes on sediment drifts from 3.5 kHz data, Antarctic Peninsula continental rise, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics.
Rebesco, M, Camerlenghi, A, and Zanolla, C Bathymetry and morphogenesis of the continental margin west of the Antarctic Peninsula. Terra Antartica 5, (1998). 715 725.
Scambos, T.A, Hulbe, C, Fahnestock, M, and Bohlander, J The link between climate warming and break-up of ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Glaciology 46, (2000). 516 530.
Shevenell, A.E, Domack, E.W, and Kernan, G.M Record of Holocene paleoclimate change along the Antarctic Peninsula: Evidence from glacial marine sediments, Lallemand Fjord. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania 130, (1996). 55 64.
Shimmield, G.B, Derrick, S, Mackensen, A, Grobe, H, and Pudsey, C.J The history of biogenic silica, organic carbon and barium accumulation in the Weddell Sea and Antarctic Ocean over the last 150,000 years. Zahn, R Carbon cycling in the Glacial Ocean: Constraints on the ocean's role in global change. (1994). 555 574.
Shipp, S, Anderson, J.B, and Domack, E.W Late Pleistocene-Holocene retreat of the West Antarctic Ice-Sheet system in the Ross Sea: Part 1—Geophysical results. Geological Society of America Bulletin 111, (1999). 1486 1516.
Swithinbank, C, McClain, P, and Little, P Drift tracks of Antarctic icebergs. Polar Record 18, (1977). 495 501.
Vaughan, D.G, and Doake, C.S.M Recent atmospheric warming and retreat of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula. Nature 379, (1996). 328 331.
Wang, D, and Hesse, R Continental slope sedimentation adjacent to an ice-margin. II. Glaciomarine depositional facies on the Labrador Slope and glacial cycles. Marine Geology 135, (1996). 65 96.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 3 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 150 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th January 2017 - 17th July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.