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Late Pliocene age of glacial deposits at Heidemann Valley, East Antarctica: evidence for the last major glaciation in the Vestfold Hills

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 November 2009

Eric A. Colhoun
School of Environmental and Life Sciences, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia
Kevin W. Kiernan
School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 78, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
Anne McConnell
School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 78, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
Patrick G. Quilty*
School of Earth Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 79, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
David Fink
Institute for Environmental Research, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, PMB 1, Menai, NSW 2234, Australia
Colin V. Murray-Wallace
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
Jason Whitehead
Institute for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies (IASOS), University of Tasmania, Private Bag 77, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia
*corresponding author:


A Pliocene (2.6–3.5 Ma) age is determined from glacial sediments studied in a 20 m long, 4 m deep trench excavated in Heidemann Valley, Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica. The age determination is based on a combined study of amino acid racemization, diatoms, foraminifera, and magnetic polarity, and supports earlier estimates of the age of the sedimentary section; all are beyond 14C range. Four till units are recognized and documented, and 16 subunits are identified. All are ascribed to deposition during a Late Pliocene glaciation that was probably the last time the entire Vestfold Hills was covered by an enlarged East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS). Evidence for other more recent glacial events of the ‘Vestfold Glaciation’ may have been due to lateral expansion of the Sørsdal Glacier and limited expansion of the icesheet margin during the Last Glacial Maximum rather than a major expansion of the EAIS. The deposit appears to correlate with a marine deposition event recorded in Ocean Drilling Program Site 1166 in Prydz Bay, possibly with the Bardin Bluffs Formation of the Prince Charles Mountains and with part of the time represented in the ANDRILL AND-1B core in the Ross Sea.

Earth Sciences
Copyright © Antarctic Science Ltd 2009

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