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East Antarctic ice sheet thinning and retreat of the Ross Sea ice sheet

East Antarctic ice sheet thinning and retreat of the Ross Sea ice sheet
Jacob Anderson


Anderson, J.T.H.1, Wilson, G.S.1, 2, Lilly, K.1, Fink, D.3

  1. Department of Geology, University of Otago
  2. Department of Marine Science, University of Otago
  3. Institute for Environmental Research, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation


Retreat of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) has been associated with sea-level rise and ocean warming on the ice sheet margins, but this has been difficult to quantify. Understanding the timing of retreat is however, critical for identifying whether the EAIS made any significant contribution to eustatic sea-level rise since the LGM. This poster presents field evidence for EAIS thinning and Ross Sea Ice Sheet (RSIS) retreat. Using Escalade and Tate Peaks as mountain dipsticks, glacial deposits indicate the EAIS has thinned by more than 500 metres in the Skelton Névé during the late Cenozoic. The distribution of McMurdo Volcanic Group erratics on Brown Peninsula and Mount Discovery shows an expanded Koettlitz Glacier lobe enveloped much of Brown Peninsula and flowed northward and northeastward. Cenozoic fossiliferous rocks distributed on the northeastern flanks of Mount Discovery and on the northern coast of Minna Bluff, indicate that the Minna Bluff lobe of the RSIS flowed north and northwest to coalesce with the expanded Koettlitz Glacier lobe between Brown Peninsula and Black Island. 10Be and 26Al exposure ages from bedrock surfaces and erratics of Beacon Supergroup sandstones in the Skelton Névé will demonstrate whether meltwater contributions came from the EAIS, the Northern Hemisphere or both. Preliminary 10Be exposure ages from Eocene fossiliferous erratics from Southern McMurdo Sound imply the RSIS has responded to sea-level rise during the Holocene. Additional ages from granite and Eocene fossiliferous erratics will constrain the timing of retreat for the RSIS.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
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    Conference commences
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    Conference concludes

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This page was last modified on 4 September 2013.