Determining Middle Miocene through Pliocene Changes in Paleo Ice-flow and Basal Ice Conditions in East Antarctica through Sedimentological Analyses of Core Samples
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). The project aims on studying sediment cores collected from Prydz Bay and the Ross Sea to unravel the Neogene paleoclimatic history of the East Antarctic ice sheet. In the light of current measurements and predictions of a substantial rise in global temperature, investigations into the sensitivity of the East Antarctic ice sheet to climate change and its role in the climate system are essential. Geological records of former periods of climate change provide an opportunity to ground truth model predictions. The scientific objective of this project is to identify a previously proposed middle Miocene transition from a more dynamic wet-based East Antarctic ice sheet to the present semi-permanent ice sheet that is partially frozen to its bed. The timing and significance of this transition is controversial due to a lack of quantitative studies on well-dated ice-proximal sedimentary sequences. This project partially fills that gap using the composition and physical properties of diamictites and sandstones to establish shifts in ice-sheet drainage pathways, paleoenvironments and basal ice conditions. The results from the two key areas around the Antarctic continental margin will provide insight into the behavior of the East Antarctic ice sheet across the middle Miocene transition and through known times of warming in the late Miocene and Pliocene.
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