Early Miocene Antarctic glacial history: new insights from heavy mineral analysis from ANDRILL AND-2A drill core sediments

Francesco Iacoviello, Giovanna Giorgetti, Isabella Turbanti Memmi, Sandra Passchier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The present study deals with heavy mineral analysis of late Early Miocene marine sediments recovered in the McMurdo Sound region (Ross Sea, Antarctica) during the ANDRILL—SMS Project in 2007. The main objective is to investigate how heavy mineral assemblages reflect different source rocks and hence different provenance areas. These data contribute to a better understanding of East Antarctica ice dynamics in the Ross Sea sector during the Early Miocene (17.6–20.2 Ma), a time of long-term global warming and sea level rise. The AND-2A drill core recovered several stratigraphic intervals that span from Early Miocene to Pleistocene and it collected a variety of terrigenous lithologies. The heavy mineral assemblages of the lower 650-m-thick sedimentary succession were analyzed through SEM observations and SEM–EDS microanalyses on heavy mineral grains. The heavy mineral analysis shows that the sediments are a mix of detritus dominated by McMurdo Volcanic Group sources most likely located in the present-day Mount Morning area (Proto-Mount Morning) with minor contribution from Transantarctic Mountains source rocks located west of the drill site. The heavy mineral assemblages in Interval 1 indicate that between 20.2 and 20.1 Ma, the grounding line of the ice sheet advanced to a position near the present-day Mount Morning volcanic center. During deposition of Interval 2 (20.1–19.3 Ma), the ice sheet most likely experienced a dynamic behavior with interval of ice advance alternating with periods of ice retreat, while Interval 3 (19.3–18.7 Ma) records further retreat to open water conditions. A dynamic behavior is noted in Interval 4 (18.7–17.6 Ma) with a decreasing contribution of materials derived from the basalts of the Mount Morning volcanic center located to the south of the drill site and a consequent increasing contribution of materials derived from the Transantarctic Mountains to the west of the drill site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-872
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2015


  • Antarctica
  • Early Miocene
  • Heavy mineral analysis
  • Ice sheet
  • Ross Sea


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