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Multiple cosmogenic nuclides document complex Pleistocene exposure history of glacial drifts in Terra Nova Bay (northern Victoria Land, Antarctica)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Luigia Di Nicola*
Scuola di Dottorato in Scienze Polari, Università di Siena, Italy Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Switzerland
Stefan Strasky
Institute of Isotope Geochemistry and Mineral Resources, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Christian Schlüchter
Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Switzerland
Maria Cristina Salvatore
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università La Sapienza, Roma, Italy
Naki Akçar
Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Switzerland
Peter W. Kubik
Paul Scherrer-Institute, c/o Institute of Particle Physics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Marcus Christl
Institute of Particle Physics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Haino Uwe Kasper
Department of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Cologne, Germany
Rainer Wieler
Institute of Isotope Geochemistry and Mineral Resources, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Carlo Baroni
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Pisa, Italy
*Corresponding author. Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 1-3, 3012 Bern, Switzerland. Fax: +41 31 631 48 43. Email (L. Di Nicola).


Geomorphological and glacial geological surveys and multiple cosmogenic nuclide analyses (10Be, 26Al, and 21Ne) allowed us to reconstruct the chronology of variations prior to the last glacial maximum of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) and valley glaciers in the Terra Nova Bay region. Glacially scoured coastal piedmonts with round-topped mountains occur below the highest local erosional trimline. They represent relict landscape features eroded by extensive ice overriding the whole coastal area before at least 6 Ma (pre-dating the build-up of the Mt. Melbourne volcanic field). Since then, summit surfaces were continuously exposed and well preserved under polar condition with negligible erosion rates on the order of 17 cm/Ma. Complex older drifts rest on deglaciated areas above the younger late-Pleistocene glacial drift and below the previously overridden summits. The combination of stable and radionuclide isotopes documents complex exposure histories with substantial periods of burial combined with minimal erosion. The areas below rounded summits were repeatedly exposed and buried by ice from local and outlet glaciers. The exposure ages of the older drift(s) indicate multiple Pleistocene glacial cycles, which did not significantly modify the pre-existing landscape.

University of Washington

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