Marine Science Faculty Publications

A Glacial Landform Assemblage from an Inter-ice Stream Setting in the Eastern Amundsen Sea Embayment, West Antarctica

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Large ice streams that drain the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) into the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE) are currently thinning, accelerating and retreating rapidly (e.g. Rignot et al. 2014). These ice streams are assumed to have reached the continental shelf edge during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; c. 23–19 cal ka BP), some 450 km north of the modern grounding line (e.g. Larter et al. 2014). Recent modelling results suggest that the expanded LGM ice sheet was characterized by fast-flowing regions across the entire ASE shelf (Golledge et al. 2013). However, the original geomorphological imprint of former fast ice-flow has usually only been preserved within deep palaeo-ice stream troughs, for example as mega-scale glacial lineations (MSGLs) (Clark 1993). In contrast, the morphological record in inter-ice stream settings is believed to have been subsequently obliterated by ploughing iceberg keels (e.g. Dowdeswell & Bamber 2007). As a result, evidence for palaeo-ice sheet dynamics in these regions, which make up a substantial portion of the former ice-sheet bed, remain largely understudied (Ottesen & Dowdeswell 2009). The undisturbed geomorphological record from a palaeo-inter-ice stream setting in the ASE, north of Burke Island, revealed an assemblage of subglacial landforms that is entirely different from those in the deep troughs (Klages et al. 2013). The geomorphological record therefore provides new insights into basal conditions of the former WAIS in the Amundsen Sea sector that is also relevant to other sectors and to ice-sheet beds outside Antarctica.

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Geological Society, London, Memoirs, v. 46, p. 349-352