Marine Science Faculty Publications

Seismic Stratigraphy of the Sabrina Coast Shelf, East Antarctica: Early History of Dynamic Meltwater-rich Glaciations

Document Type


Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


High-resolution seismic data from the Sabrina Coast continental shelf, East Antarctica, elucidate the Cenozoic evolution of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Detailed seismic stratigraphic and facies analysis reveal the Paleogene to earliest Pliocene glacial evolution of the Aurora Basin catchment, including at least 12 glacial expansions across the shelf indicated by erosional surfaces and chaotic acoustic character of strata. Differences in facies composition and seismic architecture reveal several periods of ice-free conditions succeeded by glacial expansions across the shelf. A deep (∼100 m), undulating erosional surface suggests the initial appearance of grounded ice on the shelf. Following the initial ice expansion, the region experienced an interval of open-marine to ice-distal conditions, marked by an up to 200-m-thick sequence of stratified sediments. At least three stacked erosional surfaces reveal major cross-shelf glacial expansions of regional glaciers characterized by deep (up to ∼120 m) channel systems associated with extensive subglacial meltwater. The seismic character of the sediments below the latest Miocene to earliest Pliocene regional unconformity indicates intervals of glacial retreat interrupted by advances of temperate, meltwater-rich glacial ice from the Aurora Basin catchment. Our results document the Paleogene to late Miocene glacial history of this climatically sensitive region of East Antarctica and provide an important paleoenvironmental context for future scientific drilling to constrain the regional climate and timing of Cenozoic glacial variability.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 132, issue 3-4, p. 545-561