Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Origin, structure and geochemistry of a rock glacier near Don Juan Pond, Wright Valley, Antarctica

  • Kelsey Winsor (a1), Kate M. Swanger (a2), Esther L. Babcock (a3), James L. Dickson (a4), Rachel D. Valletta (a5) and Daniel F. Schmidt (a6)...

Abstract

The South Fork of Wright Valley contains one of the largest rock glaciers in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, stretching 7 km from the eastern boundary of the Labyrinth and terminating at Don Juan Pond (DJP). Here, we use results from ground-penetrating radar (GPR), qualitative field observations, soil leaching analyses and X-ray diffraction analyses to investigate rock glacier development. The absence of significant clean ice in GPR data, paired with observations of talus and interstitial ice influx from the valley walls, support rock glacier formation via talus accumulation. A quartz-dominated subsurface composition and discontinuous, well-developed desert pavements suggest initial rock glacier formation occurred before the late Quaternary. Major ion data from soil leaching analyses show higher salt concentrations in the rock glacier and talus samples that are close to hypersaline DJP. These observations suggest that DJP acts as a local salt source to the rock glacier, as well as the surrounding talus slopes that host water track systems that deliver solutes back into the lake, suggesting a local feedback system. Finally, the lack of lacustrine sedimentation on the rock glacier is inconsistent with the advance of a glacially dammed lake into South Fork during the Last Glacial Maximum.

Copyright

Corresponding author

References

Hide All
Annan, A.P. 2005. GPR methods for hydrogeological studies. In Rubin, Y. & Hubbard, S.S.eds. Hydrogeophysics. Berlin: Springer, 185213.
Bisson, A.K.M., Welch, K.A., Welch, S.A., Sheets, J.M., Lyons, W.B. & Levy, J.S. 2015. Patterns and processes of salt efflorescences in the McMurdo region, Antarctica. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research, 47, 10.1657/AAAR0014-024.
Bockheim, J.G. 2014. Distribution, properties and origin of viscous-flow features in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Geomorphology, 204, 10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.07.032.
Bockheim, J.G. & McLeod, M. 2006. Soil formation in Wright Valley, Antarctica since the late Neogene. Geoderma, 137, 10.1016/j.geoderma.2006.08.028.
Brough, S., Hubbard, B. & Hubbard, A. 2019. Area and volume of mid-latitude glacier-like forms on Mars. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 507, 10.1016j.epsl.2018.11.031.
Cartwright, K. & Harris, H.J.H. 1981. Hydrogeology of the Dry Valley Region, Antarctica. Dry Valley Drilling Project, Antarctic Research Series, 33, 10.1029/AR033p0193.
Dickson, J.L., Head, J.W., Levy, J.S. & Marchant, D.R. 2013. Don Juan Pond, Antarctica: near-surface CaCl2-brine feeding Earth’s most saline lake and implications for Mars. Scientific Reports, 3, 10.1038/srep01166.
Dickson, J.L., Head, J.W., Levy, J.S., Morgan, G.A. & Marchant, D.R. 2019. Gully formation in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica: multiple sources of water, temporal sequence and relative importance in gully erosion and deposition processes. Special Publication of the Geological Society of London, No. 467, 289314.
Doran, P.T., McKay, C.P., Clow, G.D., Dana, G.L., Fountain, A.G., Nylen, T., et al. 2002. Valley floor climate observations from the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, 1986–2000. Journal of Geophysical Research, 107, 10.1029/2001JD002045.
Farbrot, H., Isaksen, K., Eiken, T., Kääb, A. & Sollid, J.L. 2005. Composition and internal structures of a rock glacier on the strandflat of western Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift, 59, 10.1080/00291950510020619.
Faure, G. & Jones, L.M. 1973. Isotopic compositions of strontium and geologic history of the basement rocks of Wright Valley, southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 17, 10.1080/00288306.1973.10421585.
Fountain, A.G., Nylen, T.H., Monaghan, A., Basagic, H.J. & Bromwich, D.H. 2010. Snow in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. International Journal of Climatology, 30, 10.1002/joc.1933.
Fountain, A.G., Fernandez-Diaz, J.C., Obryk, M., Levy, J., Gooseff, M., van Horn, D.J., et al. 2017. High-resolution elevation mapping of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, and surrounding regions. Earth System Science Data, 9, 10.5069/G9D50JX3.
Fukui, K., Sone, T., Strelin, J.A., Torielli, C.A., Mori, J. & Fujii, Y. 2008. Dynamics and GPR stratigraphy of a polar rock glacier on James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula. Journal of Glaciology, 54, 10.3189/002214308785836940.
Gough, R.V., Wong, J., Dickson, J.L., Levy, J.S., Head, J.W., Marchant, D.R., et al. 2017. Brine formation via deliquescence by salts found near Don Juan Pond, Antarctica: laboratory experiments and field observational results. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 476, 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.08.003.
Haeberli, W., Hallet, B., Arenson, L., Elconin, R., Humlum, O., Kaab, A., et al. 2006. Permafrost creep and rock glacier dynamics. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 17, 10.1002/ppp.561.
Hall, B.L. & Denton, G.H. 2005. Surficial geology and geomorphology of eastern and central Wright Valley, Antarctica. Geomorphology, 64, 10.1016/j.geomorph.2004.05.002.
Hall, B.L., Denton, G.H. & Overturf, B. 2001. Glacial Lake Wright, a high-level Antarctic lake during the LGM and early Holocene. Antarctic Science, 13, 10.1017/S0954102001000086.
Hassinger, J.M. & Mayewski, P.A. 1983. Morphology and dynamics of the rock glaciers in southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Arctic and Alpine Research, 15, 10.1080/00040851.1983.12004361.
Jol, H. 2009. Ground penetrating radar theory and applications. Eau Clair, WI: Elsevier Science & Technology, 545 pp.
Keys, J.R. & Williams, K. 1981. Origin of crystalline, cold desert salts in the McMurdo region, Antarctica. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 45, 10.1016/j.limno.2013.04.005.
Lacelle, D., Davila, A.F, Fisher, D., Pollard, W.H., DeWitt, R., Heldmann, J., et al. 2013. Excess ground ice of condensation-diffusion origin in University Valley, Dry Valleys of Antarctica: evidence from isotope geochemistry and numerical modeling. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 120, 10.1016/j.gca.2013.06.032.
Levy, J. 2013. How big are the McMurdo Dry Valleys? Estimating ice-free area using Landsat image data. Antarctic Science, 25, 10.1017/S0954102012000727.
Levy, J.S., Fountain, A.G., Gooseff, M.N., Welch, K.A. & Lyons, W.B. 2011. Water tracks and permafrost in Taylor Valley, Antarctica: extensive and shallow groundwater connectivity in a cold desert ecosystem. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 123, 10.1130/B30436.1.
Lewis, A.R., Marchant, D.R., Kowalewski, D.E., Baldwin, S.L. & Webb, L.E. 2006. The age and origin of the Labyrinth, western Dry Valleys, Antarctica: evidence for extensive middle Miocene subglacial floods and freshwater discharge to the Southern Ocean. Geology, 34, 10.1130/G22145.1.
Mackay, S.L., Marchant, D.R., Lamp, J.L. & Head, J.W. 2014. Cold-based debris-covered glaciers: evaluating their potential as climate archives through studies of ground-penetrating radar and surface morphology. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 119, 10.1002/2014JF003178.
Marchant, D.R. & Head, J.W. 2007. Antarctic dry valleys: microclimate zonation, variable geomorphic processes, and implications for assessing climate change on Mars. Icarus, 192, 10.1016/j.icarus.2007.06.018.
McAdam, A.C., Leshin, L.A., Sharp, T.G., Harvey, R.P. & Hoffman, E.J. 2005. Investigation of weathering products of Martian meteorite analog materials and implications for the formation of Martian surface fines. Lunar and Planetary Science Conference XXXVI, Abstract no. 2041.
McKay, C.P. 2009. Snow recurrence sets the depth of dry permafrost at high elevations in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 21, 10.1017/S0954102008001508.
McKelvey, B.C. & Webb, P.N. 1962. Geological investigations in southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, 5, 10.1080/00288306.1962.10420116.
McLeod, M., Bockheim, J., Balks, M. & Aislabie, J. 2009. Soils of western Wright Valley, Antarctica. Antarctic Science, 21, 10.1017/S0954102009001965.
Melluso, L., Hergt, J.M. & Zanetti, A. 2014. The late crystallization stages of low-Ti, low-Fe tholeiitic magmas: insights from evolved Antarctic and Tasmanian rocks. Lithos, 188, 10.1016/j.lithos.2013.10.032.
Petersen, E.I., Holt, J.W. & Levy, J.S. 2018. High ice purity of Martian lobate debris aprons at the regional scale: evidence from an orbital radar sounding survey in Deuteronilus and Protonilus Mensae. Geophysical Research Letters, 45, 10.1029/2018GL079759.
Sandmeier, K.J. 2008. ReflexW Version 5.0. Windows 9x. NT/2000/XP-program for the processing of seismic, acoustic or electromagnetic reflection, refraction and transmission data. Karlsruhe: Sandmeier Geophysical Research, 476 pp.
Sonmez, S., Buyuktas, D., Okturen, F. & Citak, S. 2008. Assessment of different soil to water ratios (1:1, 1:2.5, 1:5) in soil salinity studies. Geoderma, 144, 10.1016/j.geoderma.2007.12.005.
Swanger, K.M., Babcock, E., Winsor, K. & Valletta, R.D. 2019. Rock glaciers in Pearse Valley, Antarctica record outlet and alpine glacier advance from MIS 5 through the Holocene. Geomorphology, 336, 10.1016/j.geomorph.2019.03.019.
Swanger, K.M., Marchant, D.R., Kowalewski, D.E. & Head, J.W. 2010. Viscous flow lobes in central Taylor Valley, Antarctica: origin as remnant buried glacial ice. Geomorphology, 120, 10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.03.024.
Toner, J.D., Catling, D.C. & Sletten, R.S. 2017. The geochemistry of Don Juan Pond: evidence for a deep groundwater flow system in Wright Valley, Antarctica. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 474, 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.06.039.
Torii, T., Murata, S. & Yamagata, N. 1981. Geochemistry of the Dry Valley lakes. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 11, 10.1080/03036758.1981.10423329.
Torii, T., Yamagata, N., Ossaka, J. & Murata, S. 1977. Salt balance in the Don Juan Basin. Antarctic Record (NIPR), 58, 116130.

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Winsor et al. supplementary material
Figure S1 and Tables S1-S2

 PDF (2.0 MB)
2.0 MB

Origin, structure and geochemistry of a rock glacier near Don Juan Pond, Wright Valley, Antarctica

  • Kelsey Winsor (a1), Kate M. Swanger (a2), Esther L. Babcock (a3), James L. Dickson (a4), Rachel D. Valletta (a5) and Daniel F. Schmidt (a6)...

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.