EGU21-1538, updated on 03 Mar 2021
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

West Antarctic archipelago covered by cool-temperate forests during early Oligocene glaciation

Johann Philipp Klages1, Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand2, Steven M. Bohaty3, Ulrich Salzmann4, Torsten Bickert5, Gerrit Lohmann1,5,6, Karsten Gohl1, Gerhard Kuhn1, Jürgen Titschack5,7, Juliane Müller1,5,8, Thorsten Bauersachs9, Thomas Frederichs8, Robert D. Larter2, Katharina Hochmuth10, Werner Ehrmann11, Francisco J. Rodríguez Tovar12, Gerhard Schmiedl13, Tina van de Flierdt14, Cornelia Spiegel8, Anton Eisenhauer15, and the Science Team of Expedition PS104*
Johann Philipp Klages et al.
  • 1Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Marine Geology, Bremerhaven, Germany (
  • 2British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 3School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 4Northumbria University, Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
  • 5MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, Bremen, Germany
  • 6University of Bremen, Environmental Physics, Bremen, Germany
  • 7Senckenberg am Meer (SAM), Marine Research Department, Wilhelmshaven, Germany
  • 8University of Bremen, Faculty of Geosciences, Bremen, Germany
  • 9Christian-Albrechts-University, Institute of Geoscience, Kiel, Germany
  • 10School of Geology, Geography & the Environment, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  • 11University of Leipzig, Institute for Geophysics and Geology, Leipzig, Germany
  • 12Departamento de Estratigrafía y Paleontología, Granada, Spain
  • 13University of Hamburg, Institute for Geology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 14Imperial College London, Department of Earth Science & Engineering, London, United Kingdom
  • 15GEOMAR Helmholtz-Zentrum für Ozeanforschung, Kiel, Germany
  • *A full list of authors appears at the end of the abstract

The Eocene-Oligocene Transition (~34.4–33.7 Ma) marks a major step in the long-term evolution from the greenhouse climate of the Early Palaeogene to the icehouse regime of the Late Neogene and Quaternary. However, it remains uncertain which landmasses were covered by ice sheets during the Early Oligocene Glacial Maximum (~33.7–33.2 Ma), an interval of peak glaciation inferred from deep-sea benthic foraminifera oxygen isotope records that immediately follows the Eocene-Oligocene Transition. The scarcity of Late Eocene and Early Oligocene continental and shallow-marine records in both Arctic and Antarctic regions has prevented the reconstruction of environmental conditions and ice-sheet extent during the Early Oligocene, which is critical for assessing ice–ocean–atmosphere interactions during early stages of the Cenozoic icehouse. Here, we present the first Early Oligocene shallow-marine record from the Pacific margin of West Antarctica, recovered from the central Amundsen Sea Embayment shelf on RV Polarstern expedition PS104 at Site 21. Marine mudstones recovered at this site document the presence of a vegetated archipelago at a palaeo-latitude of 73.5°S. Pollen assemblages and organic biomarker proxies indicate a cool-temperate Nothofagus-dominated forest situated within a productive marine archipelago. No evidence for marine terminating ice was detected in the cores from Site 21, thus indicating that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was small or entirely absent during the Early Oligocene.

Science Team of Expedition PS104:

Gabriele Uenzelmann-Neben, Oliver Esper, James A. Smith, Tim Freudenthal, Florian Riefstahl, Ricarda Dziadek, Catalina Gebhardt, Jan-Erik Arndt, Thomas, Ronge, Kevin Küssner, Heiko Pälike, Maximilian Zundel, Patric Simões Pereira, Yani Najman, Mirko Scheinert, Benjamin Ebermann, Victoria Afanasyeva

How to cite: Klages, J. P., Hillenbrand, C.-D., Bohaty, S. M., Salzmann, U., Bickert, T., Lohmann, G., Gohl, K., Kuhn, G., Titschack, J., Müller, J., Bauersachs, T., Frederichs, T., Larter, R. D., Hochmuth, K., Ehrmann, W., Rodríguez Tovar, F. J., Schmiedl, G., van de Flierdt, T., Spiegel, C., and Eisenhauer, A. and the Science Team of Expedition PS104: West Antarctic archipelago covered by cool-temperate forests during early Oligocene glaciation, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1538,, 2021.