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https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-57
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-57
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 02 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 02 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

A 14.5 million-year record of East Antarctic Ice Sheet fluctuations from the central Transantarctic Mountains, constrained with cosmogenic 3He, 10Be, 21Ne, and 26Al

Allie Balter1,2, Gordon Bromley2,3, Greg Balco4, Holly Thomas1, and Margaret S. Jackson3 Allie Balter et al.
  • 1School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA
  • 2Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA
  • 3Geography, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  • 4Berkeley Geochronology Center, Berkeley, California, USA

Abstract. The distribution of moraines in the Transantarctic Mountains affords direct constraint of past ice-marginal positions of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS). Here, we describe glacial-geologic observations and cosmogenic-nuclide exposure ages from Roberts Massif, an ice-free area in the central Transantarctic Mountains. We measured cosmogenic 3He, 10Be, 21Ne, and 26Al in 180 dolerite and sandstone boulders collected from 24 distinct deposits. Our data show that a cold-based EAIS was present, in a configuration similar to today, for many periods over the last ~ 14.5 Myr, including the mid-Miocene, Late Pliocene, and early-to-mid Pleistocene. Moraine ages at Roberts Massif increase with distance from, and elevation above the modern ice margin, which is consistent with a persistent EAIS extent during glacial maxima, and slow, isostatic uplift of the massif itself in response to trough incision by outlet glaciers. We also employ the exceptionally high cosmogenic-nuclide concentrations in several boulders, along with multi-isotope measurements in sandstone boulders, to infer extremely low erosion rates (<< 5 cm/Myr) over the period covered by our record. Although our data are not a direct measure of ice volume, the Roberts Massif glacial record indicates that the EAIS was present and similar to its current configuration during at least some periods when global temperature was believed to be warmer and/or atmospheric CO2 concentrations were likely higher than today.

Allie Balter et al.

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Allie Balter et al.

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Latest update: 06 Apr 2020
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Short summary
We describe new geologic evidence from Antarctica that demonstrates changes in East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) extent over the past ~ 15 million years. Our data show that the EAIS was a persistent feature in the Transantarctic Mountains for much of that time, including some (but not all) times when global temperature may have been warmer than today. Overall, our results comprise a long-term record of EAIS change, and may provide useful constraints for ice-sheet models and sea-level estimates.
We describe new geologic evidence from Antarctica that demonstrates changes in East Antarctic...
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