Mechanism and Timing of West Antarctic Ice Sheet Retreat at the End of the Last Glacial Maximum
Anderson OPP 9527876 Abstract This award supports continuation of a long term investigation of the continental shelf sediments that is aimed at examining the configuration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet during the last glacial maximum, the events and mechanisms involved in its retreat, and the timing of retreat. The project involves: 1) characterizing variations in the ice sheet grounding zone in a latitudinal transect extending from Ross Sea to Bransfield Basin, 2) reconstructing conditions at the ice/bed interface prior to and after ice sheet retreat, and 3) radiometrically dating ice sheet retreat along this transect. Detailed sea floor imagery (multibeam and deep-tow side-scan sonar), high resolution seismic reflection profiles, and sediment cores will be used to map and characterize prior grounding zones. Of particular concern are features that indicate the amount and organization (channelization) of basal meltwater and the extent of bed deformation that occurred in different ice streams. The timing of ice sheet retreat provides information about the link between Northern and Southern hemisphere ice expansion, and the role of eustasy in ice sheet decoupling. This research should lead to better predictive models to determine which ice streams are most unstable and likely, therefore, to serve as Oweak linksO in the long term behavior of West Antarctic Ice Sheet.
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