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Deglaciation of Marine Environments: Lessons and Questions From Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula

UTIG Seminars

Deglaciation of Marine Environments:
Lessons and Questions From Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula

Rodrigo Fernandez

Friday, 31 October, 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Join us for coffee beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Seminar Conference Room, 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg 196-ROC, Austin, Texas 78758
Sean Gulick and Joe MacGregor, UTIG

Click for a Live Broadcast.

Retreat of marine ice bodies from continental shelves and fjords is a complex process where internal ice dynamics is affected by atmospheric, oceanic and geological factors. During the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) ice extended to the edge of the continental shelf in the Antarctic Peninsula (AP). The maximum western extent of what constituted the second largest ice body in the southern hemisphere, the Patagonian Ice Sheet (PIS; or Patagonian Ice Cap for some) is still unknown although partial evidence suggest that it might have reached the shelf break in some areas while others might have terminated on land. Geographic proximity, coupling of ocean and atmospheric systems, and some glacial history evidence suggest a certain level of connection between the ice sheets of Patagonia and the AP at least during the last few thousand years before the deglaciation of the continental shelf.

Variable levels of detail exist about the history of deglaciation along the western Antarctic Peninsula. About three decades of marine surveys have resulted on the collection of large amounts of bathymetric and multibeam data, and of hundreds of sediment cores. Today, there is a good understanding of sea floor geomorphological features related to ice retreat dynamics but age control of these features or post glacial sediments is still a methodological challenge. On the other hand, the knowledge of the deglaciation history of the Patagonian continental shelf and fjords is restricted to a handful of fjords with virtually nothing known about the continental shelf.

I will present results of seismic data, sediment cores and bathymetry collected over several cruises, along with results of well cited publications to provide an overview of what is known and what we still need to understand respect to the deglaciation of these regions. I will discuss the possible meaning of early post-glacial sedimentary facies and mechanisms acting during initial grounding line retreat, including the role of sediment flux to the ice/bed interface, the influence of climate and ocean changes and sea level rise. I will also introduce research ideas included in submitted and in-preparation proposals that will drive my research over the next years.