Probing Antarctica’s glacial history with marine sediments
Prof. Dr. Sidney R. Hemming
INF 229, SR 108/110

The approximately radial pattern of ice sheet drainage divides around most of East Antarctica, combined with the strong contrast in geology between East and West Antarctica and the general trends of geological variability around East Antarctica contribute to the value of sedimentary provenance tools for studying the past history of the ice sheets. Antarctica has been substantially glaciated since approximately 34 Ma (the Eocene-Oligocene boundary), but with some important swings in Cenozoic climate that are associated with significant retreats and advances of the ice margins. Where the glaciers enter the ocean, icebergs calve off and carry with them pieces of the subglacial geology from where they were derived. As they are transported in the currents around the continent, their melting causes them to drop debris (ice rafted debris or detritus, IRD) into the ocean.

I will present an overview of the background data on geochronological and radiogenic isotope tracers around Antarctica, and will show a couple of examples of the application to understanding dynamic behavior of past ice sheet sectors.