Collaborative Research: EAGER: Evaluating the Larsen basin's suitability for testing the Cretaceous Glaciation Hypothesis
Recent geochemical, sequence stratigraphic, and integrated investigations of marine strata from several continental margins and ocean basins suggest that ephemeral ice sheets may have existed on Antarctica during parts of the Cretaceous and early Paleogene. However, atmospheric carbon dioxide estimates for this time are as much as four times modern levels. With such greenhouse conditions, the presence of Antarctic ice sheets would imply that our current understanding of Earth?s climate system, and specifically the interpreted thresholds of Antarctic glaciation and deglaciation should be reconsidered. The proposed research will compare the quantity and provenance of Cretaceous sediments in the Larsen basin of the eastern Antarctic Peninsula with the exhumation chronology and composition of potential sediment source terranes on the peninsula and in adjacent regions. New outcrop stratigraphic analyses with improvements in the age models from radioisotopic approaches will be integrated to determine the amount of detrital sediment fluxed to the Larsen basin between key chronostratigraphic surfaces. Microtextural analysis of quartz sand and silt grains will help determine whether the Larsen basin detrital sediment originated from glacial weathering. These preliminary results will test the viability of the proposed approach to assess the controversial Cretaceous Antarctic glaciation hypothesis.
The proposed work will partially support a PhD, a MSc, and three undergraduate students at the University of South Carolina. The PIs will publicize this work through volunteer speaking engagements and the development of videos and podcasts. They also commit to prompt publication of the results and timely submission of data to archives. The development/improvement of the Larsen basin age model will benefit ongoing research in paleobiology, paleoclimate and biogeography. Development of the glauconite K-Ar and Rb-Sr chronometers could be an important outcome beyond the direct scope of the proposed research.
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