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Extending the Vestfold Hills Palaeoenvironmental Archive

Extending the Vestfold Hills Palaeoenvironmental Archive
Philip O'Brien


Philip O’Brien
Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 

Damian Gore
Macquarie University, Sydney NSW

Barbara Frankel
Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston TAS


Vestfold Hills is one of the rare places in Antarctica where the response of marine and terrestrial environments to past environmental change can be reconstructed in detail through the sedimentary record. To date, lake sediments have been used to reconstruct Holocene palaeoenvironmental conditions including ice sheet retreat and relative sea level. The Pliocene marine sediments of Marine Plain also provided insights to a warmer Antarctic coastal zone from 4.5-4.1 Ma BP. The formation and preservation of the Marine Plain sediments highlights the possibility of other deposits in Vestfold Hills that may provide a window into other time intervals. Trenches in Heidemann Valley revealed a deep sedimentary record, although dating the glacial sediments there has been difficult. New data using geophysical techniques reveal that the sediment-filled valleys of Vestfold Hills potentially contain many similar sedimentary sections. Resistivity profiles and seismic lines across Marine Plain suggest as much as 15 m of sediment below the surface in places, while seismic lines from valleys north of Davis Station show sediment thicknesses of at least 30 m in places. In these valleys, Holocene marine sediments rest on undated glacial sediments which are probably Pliocene to Holocene in age. Offshore from Davis Station, multibeam bathymetry reveals sediment-filled basins that could extend the sea level and hence ice volume history of the region beyond the current limit of 8500 years.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

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This page was last modified on 23 September 2013.