Sedimentary stratigraphy and provenance off Dronning Maud Land (East Antarctica) during the mid-Pleistocene transition: Implications for paleoclimate and ice dynamics

Cheng Cheng Wang, Sidney Hemming, Suzanne O'Connell, Eliza Carter, Troy Rasbury, Trevor Williams, Brendan T. Reilly, Stefanie Brachfeld, Sanzhong Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Glacial-marine sediments from the Antarctic continental margin provide a record of depositional environment, oceanographic variability and ice dynamics that is tapped with scientific ocean drilling. This study focuses on Ocean Drilling Program Core 693A-2R, a 9.7 m sediment core retrieved from near the continental margin of the Archean Grunehogna Craton in Dronning Maud Land (DML), East Antarctica. The results contribute to a better understanding of ice-shelf behavior in DML during the mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT), a well-known transition from 40-kyr to 100-kyr cycle periods. The age model, constructed based on Sr isotope stratigraphy and geomagnetic reversals, indicates that the core spans 1.20 to 0.65 Ma. The dynamic behavior of DML ice shelves with periodic iceberg calving is revealed by the glacial–interglacial variation in sedimentation patterns, with interglacials characterized by higher concentrations of ice-rafted debris (IRD) associated with enhanced paleoproductivity than glacial intervals. The responses of DML ice shelves to warm climates are represented by a prolonged interglacial period at 1.0–1.1 Ma (MIS 31–27) and significant interglacial expressions during MIS 19 and 17. The 40Ar/39Ar ages of individual ice-rafted hornblende grains are compared with the on-land geology of DML and neighboring regions to determine the provenances of IRD. Specifically, 40Ar/39Ar results record primarily late Neoproterozoic to Cambrian ages (600–400 Ma) with a predominant peak of 520–480 Ma. This Pan-African/Ross orogeny signature is very common in East Antarctica but is not found in the most proximal margin of the Grunehogna Craton, and is instead associated with the region of DML several hundred kilometers east of the deposition site. This indicates that significant discharges of icebergs occurred in the remote DML, which were then transported by the westward-flowing Antarctic Coastal Current to deposit IRD at the studied site during the MPT. This study establishes a confirmed MPT sedimentary sequence off DML, against which future MPT proxy records from the Weddell Sea embayment and other sectors in Antarctica can be compared and correlated, and provides a basis for more detailed analyses of the response of DML ice sheet to Pleistocene climate variations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108483
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2024


  • Antarctic Ice Sheet
  • Ar/Ar thermochronology
  • Foraminifera
  • Ice-rafted debris
  • Iceberg discharge
  • Strontium isotope stratigraphy
  • Weddell Sea


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