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Ice elevation changes in the Shackleton Range, Antarctica

The results of an intensive cosmogenic isotope analysis programme in the Shackleton Range suggest that Slessor Glacier and Recovery Glacier, outlet glaciers of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet which bound the massif on either side, did not thicken significantly during the Last Glacial Maximum.

One possible explanation is that, while many outlet glaciers in Antarctica expanded with a lower glacial sea level, the outlets surrounding the Shackleton Range were unable to ground and advance into the trough beneath the Filchner-Ronne ice shelf because it was too deep.

We are still trying to understand the implications of 73 exposure-age dates and also the million-year old dates from the upper plateau surfaces which bear striated till deposits. The latter resemble the Sirius Group deposits in the McMurdo area of the Transantarctic Mountains and could be of similar age, forming during the early glaciation of Antarctica ~ 34 million years ago.

People involved in this project:

  • Prof. David Sugden (Edinburgh)
  • Dr. Andy Hein (Edinburgh)
  • Dr. Chris Fogwill (New South Wales, Sydney)

Profiles of Edinburgh Scientists »

This project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, UK (NE/EO18254/1).

Relevant publications

  • 2011 Hein, A.S., Fogwill, C.J., Sugden, D.E., Xu, S. Glacial/interglacial ice stream stability in the Weddell Sea embayment, Antarctica. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 307, 211-221, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2011.04.037
  • 2011 Le Brocq, A.M., Bentley, M.J., Hubbard, A., Fogwill, C.J., Sugden, D.E., Whitehouse, P.L. Reconstructing the Last Glacial Maximum ice sheet in the Weddell Sea embayment, Antarctica, using numerical modelling constrained by field evidence, Quaternary Science Reviews, 30, 2422-2432.
  • 2013 Hein, A.S., Sugden, D.E., Fogwill, C.J., Xu, Geological scatter of cosmogenic-nuclide exposure ages in the Shackleton Range, Antarctica: implications for glacial history, Quaternary Geochronology (In press).
  • In preparation. Sugden, D.E., Fogwill, C.J., Hein, A.S., Stuart, F.M., Kerr, A, R., Kubik, P.W. Did glacial erosion cause the Shackleton Range to emerge from beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet? Geomorphology?
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