The East Antarctic ice sheet underwent a major expansion during the Mid-Miocene Climate Transition, around 14 Ma, lowering sea level by ∼60 m. However, direct or indirect evidence of where changes in the ice sheet occurred is limited. Here we present new insights on timing and locations of ice sheet change from two drill sites offshore East Antarctica. IODP Site U1356, Wilkes Land, and ODP Site 1165, Prydz Bay are located adjacent to two major ice drainage areas, the Wilkes Subglacial Basin and the Lambert Graben. Ice-rafted detritus (IRD), including dropstones, was deposited in concentrations far exceeding those known in the rest of the Miocene succession at both sites between 14.1 and 13.8 Ma, indicating that large amounts of IRD-bearing icebergs were calved from independent drainage basins during this relatively short interval. At Site U1356, the IRD was delivered in distinct pulses, suggesting that the overall ice advance was punctuated by short periods of ice retreat in the Wilkes Subglacial Basin. Provenance analysis of the mid-Miocene IRD and fine-grained sediments provides additional insights on the movement of the ice margin and subglacial geology. At Site U1356, the dominant 40Ar/39Ar thermochronological age of the ice-rafted hornblende grains is 1400–1550 Ma, differing from the majority of recent IRD in the area, from which we infer an inland source area of this thermochronological age extending along the eastern part of the Adélie Craton, which forms the western side of the Wilkes Subglacial Basin. Neodymium isotopic compositions from the terrigenous fine fraction at Site U1356 imply that the ice margin periodically expanded from high ground well into the Wilkes Subglacial Basin during periods of MMCT ice growth. At Site 1165, MMCT pebble-sized IRD are sourced from both the local Lambert Graben and the distant Aurora Subglacial Basin drainage area. Together, the occurrence and provenance of the IRD and glacially-eroded sediment at these two marine drill sites proximal to the Antarctic continent provide a previously undocumented record of dynamic ice margin change during the 14.1–13.8 Ma interval in three major East Antarctic drainage basins.
- Ar/Ar thermochronology
- East Antarctic ice sheet
- Wilkes Subglacial Basin
- detrital provenance
- mid-Miocene climate transition