Iron oxide tracers of ice sheet extent and sediment provenance in the ANDRILL AND-1B drill core, Ross Sea, Antarctica

Stefanie Brachfeld, Juliana Pinzon, Jason Darley, Leonardo Sagnotti, Gerhard Kuhn, Fabio Florindo, Gary Wilson, Christian Ohneiser, Donata Monien, Leah Joseph

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11 Scopus citations


The AND-1B drill core recovered a 13.57. million. year Miocene through Pleistocene record from beneath the McMurdo Ice Shelf in Antarctica (77.9°S, 167.1°E). Varying sedimentary facies in the 1285. m core indicate glacial-interglacial cyclicity with the proximity of ice at the site ranging from grounding of ice in 917. m of water to ice free marine conditions. Broader interpretation of climatic conditions of the wider Ross Sea Embayment is deduced from provenance studies. Here we present an analysis of the iron oxide assemblages in the AND-1B core and interpret their variability with respect to wider paleoclimatic conditions. The core is naturally divided into an upper and lower succession by an expanded 170. m thick volcanic interval between 590 and 760. m. Above 590. m the Plio-Pleistocene glacial cycles are diatom rich and below 760. m late Miocene glacial cycles are terrigenous. Electron microscopy and rock magnetic parameters confirm the subdivision with biogenic silica diluting the terrigenous input (fine pseudo-single domain and stable single domain titanomagnetite from the McMurdo Volcanic Group with a variety of textures and compositions) above 590. m. Below 760. m, the Miocene section consists of coarse-grained ilmenite and multidomain magnetite derived from Transantarctic Mountain lithologies. This may reflect ice flow patterns and the absence of McMurdo Volcanic Group volcanic centers or indicate that volcanic centers had not yet grown to a significant size. The combined rock magnetic and electron microscopy signatures of magnetic minerals serve as provenance tracers in both ice proximal and distal sedimentary units, aiding in the study of ice sheet extent and dynamics, and the identification of ice rafted debris sources and dispersal patterns in the Ross Sea sector of Antarctica.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-433
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal and Planetary Change
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Antarctic Ice Sheet
  • Electron microscopy
  • Rock magnetism
  • Sediment provenance


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