EGU21-4719, updated on 24 Apr 2023
EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Tracking ice-sheet dynamics by detrital feldspar Pb-isotope and 87Rb/87Sr dating during the Middle Miocene Climatic Transition, Weddell Sea, Antarctica

Roland Neofitu1, Chris Mark1, Suzanne O'Connell2, Samuel Kelley1, Delia Rösel3, Thomas Zack3, and J. Stephen Daly1
Roland Neofitu et al.
  • 1University College Dublin, School of Earth Sciences, Dublin, Ireland (
  • 2Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, 265 Church St., Middletown, CT 06459, USA
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Guldhedsgatan 5A, 41320 Gothenburg, Sweden

Antarctic ice-sheet instability is recorded by ice-rafted debris (IRD) in mid- to high-latitude marine sediment, especially throughout climate transitions. The middle Miocene climatic transition (MMCT), 14.2 to 13.8 Ma, which marks the end of a significant warm period during the mid-Miocene, saw a rapid cooling of ca. 6-7 °C in the high-latitude Southern Ocean. This climatic shift was also accompanied by a global δ18O excursion of ca. 1‰, indicating a time of global cooling and significant Antarctic ice expansion (Shevenell et al., 2004). The MMCT is recorded by numerous IRD-rich sediment horizons in deep-sea sediment cores around the Antarctic margin, reflecting iceberg calving during times of ice-sheet instability. Resolving the locations of iceberg calving sites by detrital provenance analysis during the MMCT will be an important tool for forecasting effects of anthropogenic climate change.

Here we present results of a multi-proxy provenance study by using K- and plagioclase feldspar, selected due to their relative abundance in clastic sediment, and tendency to incorporate Rb (Kfs only), Pb, and Sr at analytically useful concentrations, thus enabling source-terrane fingerprinting. While Pb-isotope fingerprinting is an established method for provenance analysis of glaciogenic sediment (Flowerdew et al., 2012), combining in-situ Sr-isotope fingerprinting with 87Rb/87Sr dating is a novel approach. These techniques are applied to deep-sea core ODP113-694, which was recovered from the Weddell Sea; as this is located ca. 750 km from the continental rise, in 4671.3 m of water. This location is ideal, as it acts as a major iceberg graveyard making it a key IRD depocenter (Barker, Kennett et al., 1988). Within the core, several IRD layers were identified and analysed with preliminary depositional ages of 14 to 14.4 Ma.

We discuss the implications of our results in terms of location of active iceberg calving sites and further consider the viability of our multi-proxy provenance approach to the Antarctic offshore.

Barker, P.F., Kennett, J.P., et al., 1988, Proc. Init. Repts. (Pt. A): ODP, 113, College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program).

Flowerdew, M.J., et al., 2012, Chemical Geology, v. 292–293, p. 88–102, doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2011.11.006.

Shevenell, A.E., et al., 2004, Science, v. 305, p. 1766-1770, doi: 10.1126/science.1100061.

How to cite: Neofitu, R., Mark, C., O'Connell, S., Kelley, S., Rösel, D., Zack, T., and Daly, J. S.: Tracking ice-sheet dynamics by detrital feldspar Pb-isotope and 87Rb/87Sr dating during the Middle Miocene Climatic Transition, Weddell Sea, Antarctica, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4719,, 2021.


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