Environmental and ice volume changes based on seismic stratigraphy in Sabrina Coast, East Antarctica: Preliminary results from NBP1402
Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 4:30 PM
In 2014, the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer (NBP1402) sailed to a virtually unexplored continental shelf along the Sabrina Coast, East Antarctica. The shelf contains the sedimentary record of environmental and ice volume changes within the Aurora Subglacial Basin (ASB), which is presently occupied by ~7 m sea level-rise equivalent of ice. We acquired 750 km of high-resolution seismic data proximal to the Reynolds Trough and Moscow University Ice Shelf glacial systems west of the Dalton Ice Tongue using dual 45/45 cu. in. G.I. guns and a 24 ch. streamer with 3.125 m groups providing a vertical resolution of ~3 m simultaneously with CHIRP data. These are the first images of this margin acquired and show a remarkable set of sequence stratigraphic transitions. Crystalline basement is at the seafloor landward and buried seaward with a transition to smoother reflection interface. Reflective sedimentary strata overlie the basement, dip seaward, and are capped by a landward-dipping regional angular unconformity. Above this are a series of transparent seismic facies that, along with the middle to outer shelf seafloor, dip landward towards a shelf-oblique glacial trough. The older, seaward-dipping strata include a deeper series of units that display at least three stratal architectures interpreted to be shelf deltas implying a pre-glacial, fluvial environment within the drainage basin. Above these sequences, the seismic facies transition to surfaces exhibiting significant erosion, small u-shaped valleys, and channel fill sequences, all of which are reminiscent of temperate glacial features. We interpret these sequences as including sub-ice tunnel valleys and grounding zone wedges with interspersed non-glacial to pro-glacial deposits. Increasing glaciogenic facies upsection suggests a gradual fluvial to glacial transition and increasing glacial extent with time. The subsequent transition to ice sheets is marked by erosion to basement landward and the angular unconformity seaward. The unconformity is overlain by glacial diamict, representing an incomplete record of cold-based glaciations after the ASB became ice-filled. Correlations with cores collected above and below the unconformity and deltaic unit should allow us to determine the ages of these transitions from fluvial to polythermal to ice sheets in East Antarctica.