Glacial proxies of East Antarctic shield basement in Wilkes Land, Antarctica
This work will determine the age and provenance of glacially derived marine sediments from the coastal regions of Wilkes Land, Antarctica. These deposits may offer insight into the history of the East Antarctic Shield (EAS), which is amongst the oldest sections of continental crust on Earth, but cannot be studied directly because of nearly complete ice sheet coverage. The study will use Australian National University's SHRIMP ion microprobe to date zircon and monazite found in the sediments. Samples of interest include polymictic pebble and cobble clasts obtained from dredge hauls of tills, as well as sand-matrix fractions from cores of glacial diamicts on the continental margin. Individual clasts of igneous and metamorphic rocks from tills will be selected for zircon and/or monazite age dating, whereas detrital zircons from stratified and non-stratified diamictons will be analyzed for composite zircon provenance analysis. In addition, detrital zircon ages will be determined for Beacon Supergroup sandstones to evaluate recycling of zircon in Phanerozoic basins. Integration of ages obtained from both sources will provide a good representation of the EAS terrains underlying the Wilkes Land ice sheet. This project will allow us to learn more about the remote continental interior and improve our ability to interpret past ice-flow patterns without further environmental impact on Antarctica. The results will improve our understanding of Precambrian tectonics and crustal evolution, and help target future over-ice geophysical surveys and basement drilling projects currently under consideration. In terms of broader impacts, the project will provide educational and training opportunities for undergraduate students in Earth science.
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