Polar regions – climate, oceanography, tectonics, and geohazards

Significant advances in our understanding of the Meso- and Cenozoic development of polar regions have been made over the last two decades by studying continental shelf, slope, or deep-sea sediment sequences. These include detailed reconstructions of the climatic, oceanographic, and tectonic evolution of high northern and southern latitudes over various time scales, as well as reconstructions of past ice-sheet dynamics and studies of marine geohazards. Data have been obtained from conventional and high-resolution 2D and 3D seismic surveying, from a growing number of short sediment cores, and from targeted high-latitude deep drilling expeditions (e.g. IODP, MeBo). The same techniques have also been applied in fjords, which link the continental margins with the interiors of landmasses and act as “miniature ocean basins”. Fjord settings allow us to study similar geological processes to those that acted on glaciated continental margins but at smaller scales. The variety of sediment inputs (e.g. glacial, fluvioglacial, fluvial, biological) to fjord basins along with relatively high sedimentation rates provides the potential for high-resolution palaeoclimatic and palaeooceanographic records on decadal to centennial timescales.

The aim of this session is to bring together researchers working on both northern and southern high latitudes processes spanning various spatio-temporal scales from fjords to the deep sea, to provide a multi-disciplinary picture of polar regions. We welcome submissions focussing on (but not limited to) records of past climatic change, tectonics, oceanography and ecosystems, and the associated links with ice sheets and glacier behaviour, ice-ocean interactions and glacial-marine sedimentary processes. Studies that integrate different datasets, data types, or that marry observations with numerical modelling are also encouraged.

We dedicate this session to our dear colleague and co-convener, Christian Hass, whose enthusiasm and knowledge helped shape this session over many years.

Co-organized by SSP2
Convener: Andrew Christ | Co-conveners: Johann Philipp KlagesECSECS, Kelly Hogan, Kasia K. Sliwinska, Michele Rebesco
vPICO presentations
| Tue, 27 Apr, 09:00–10:30 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Tue, 27 Apr

Chairpersons: Andrew Christ, Johann Philipp Klages, Kelly Hogan
Estella Weigelt, Christoph Gaedicke, and Wilfried Jokat

The Lomonosov Ridge (LR) and Fram Strait (FR) represent prominent morphologic features in the Arctic Ocean. Their tectonic evolution control ocean circulation, sedimentation environment, glacial processes and ecosystem through time. We present findings of a 300 km long seismic transect from the Gakkel Deep through the southeastern Amundsen Basin (AB), and onto the LR. The data image an up to 3 km thick sedimentary sequence that can be subdivided into six major seismic units.

The two lower units AB-1 and AB-2 consist of syn-rift sediments of Paleocene to early Eocene age likely eroded off the Barents-Kara and Laptev Sea shelves, and the subsiding LR.

AB-2 includes the time interval of the “Azolla event,” which is regarded as an era of a warm Arctic Ocean punctuated by episodic incursions of fresh water. The connection to North Atlantic waters via the Fram Strait was not yet established, and anoxic conditions prevailed in the young, still isolated Eurasian Basin. Also, the LR still was above or close to sea level and posed an obstacle for water exchange between the Eurasian and Amerasian basins.

The top of AB-2 onlaps the acoustic basement at magnetic anomaly C21o (∼47.3 Ma). Its contact with unit AB-3 above is marked by a striking loss in reflection amplitudes. This prominent interface can be traced through the AB, indicating widespread changes in tectonic and deposition conditions in the Arctic Ocean since the middle Eocene. For younger crust the depth of acoustic basement rises significantly, as well as the deformation of the surface. Both are probably linked to a reorganization of tectonic plates accompanied by a significant decrease in spreading rates.

Units AB-3 and AB-4 indicate the accumulation of sediments between the middle Eocene and the earliest Miocene. Erosional, channel-like interruptions indicate these layers to reflect the stage when Fram Strait opened and continuously deepened. Incursions of water masses from the North Atlantic probably led to first bottom currents and produced erosion, slumping, and subsequent mixing of deposits.

The upper units AB-5 to AB-6 show reflection characteristics and thicknesses similar all over the Arctic Ocean indicating that basin-wide pelagic sedimentation prevailed at least since late Oligocene. Drift bodies, sediment waves, and erosional structures indicate the onset of a modern ocean circulation system and bottom current activity in the early Miocene in the Amundsen Basin. At that time, the FR was developed widely, and also the LR no longer posed an obstacle between the Amerasia and Eurasia Basins. Lastly, unit AB-6 indicates pronounced variations in the sedimentary layers, and is associated with the onset of glacio-marine deposition since the Pliocene (5.3 Ma).

How to cite: Weigelt, E., Gaedicke, C., and Jokat, W.: Coupled evolution of tectonic, ocean circulations, and depositional regime in the southeastern Amundsen Basin, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5190,, 2021.

Gabriele Uenzelmann-Neben, Matthias Schneider, Thomas Westerhold, and Eleen Zirks

The Kerguelen Plateau, southern Indian Ocean rises up 2000 m above the surrounding seafloor and hence forms an obstacle for the flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) and the Antarctic Bottomwater (AABW). The ACC is strongly deviated in its flow towards the north. A branch of the AABW flows northwards along the eastern flank of the plateau and in its path is steered by several basement highs and William’s Ridge. Seismic data collected during RV Sonne cruise SO272 image sediment drifts shaped in the Labuan Basin, which document onset and variabilities in pathway and intensity of this AABW branch in relation to the development of the Antarctic ice sheet and tectonic processes, e.g., the opening of the Tasman gateway. The eastern flank of the Kerguelen shows strong erosion of the post-mid Eocene sequences. In places, the Paleocene/early Eocene sequences are also affected by thinning and erosion. A moatcan be observed along the Kerguelen Plateau flank indicating the flowpath of the north setting AAWB branch. Sediment drifts and sediment waves are formed east of the moat. Similar features are observed at the inner, western flank of William’s Ridge thus outlining the recirculation of the AABW branch in the Labuan Basin. The chronological and spatial will be reconstructed via the analysis of those sedimentary structures to provide constraints on climate and ocean circulation variability.

How to cite: Uenzelmann-Neben, G., Schneider, M., Westerhold, T., and Zirks, E.: Sediment drifts at the eastern Kerguelen Plateau: Achives of climate and circulation development, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-141,, 2020.

Ricarda Nielsen and Gabriele Uenzelmann-Neben

Formation of Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) plays an essential role within Meridional Overturning Circulation and is widely accepted to be the engine of global Thermohaline Circulation (THC), which is sensitive to climate changes. Studying paleo conditions and changes of AABW distribution during warm and cold periods is fundamental to gain knowledge about its interaction and response to climate changes, which helps to understand recent and future changes of THC due to global warming.

West of Prydz Bay, along MacRobertson Land Shelf area, a recent production of dense shelf water in the Cape Darnley Polynya and outflow as so-called Cape Darnley Bottom Water (CDBW) along the Wild Canyon has been recognized. CDBW contributes around 6-13% to the total circumpolar AABW. In order to understand the paleo conditions of AABW it is necessary to investigate the paleo-evolution of CDBW. To do this, we have studied the formation history of a 200 km long sediment drift (Darnley Drift herein) at the western flank of the Wild Canyon. We utilized more than 13.000 km of multi-channel seismic reflection data and lithological Data of ODP Site 1165.  

We characterized Darnley Drift to be a mixed turbiditic-contourite drift formed by an interplay of downslope and along-slope processes. During the Oligocene, turbiditic outflow dominated along the later formed Wild Canyon. An onset of CDBW can be inferred during the early Miocene, forming an asymmetric channel-levee system along the Wild Canyon. After the mid-Miocene Climatic Optimum a major climate change occurred, resulting in a strong intensification of bottom currents and major growth of the drift with simultaneous areas of non-deposition and erosion. This was followed by a sharp reduction of sedimentation rates. Since the late Miocene the growth of Darnley Drift is further dominated by contourite bottom currents.

How to cite: Nielsen, R. and Uenzelmann-Neben, G.: Cenozoic reconstruction of Cape Darnley Bottom Water paleo-distribution imprinted in the drift formation history off MacRobertson Land Shelf, East Antarctica, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8061,, 2021.

Cecilia Morales-Ocaña, Fernando Bohoyo, Carlota Escutia, Carlos Marín-Lechado, María Druet, Carmen Rey-Moral, and Jesús Galindo-Zaldívar

The South Orkney Microcontinent (SOM) is located in the central sector of the South Scotia Arc, at the Weddell Sea northern edge. The SOM is the largest continental block in the southern Scotia Arc with a surface of more than 70.000 km2. Its current location is the result of the continental break-up from the Antarctic Peninsula related to the Powell Basin opening, considered one of the first steps in the formation of the Drake Passage during the Eocene-Oligocene.

In this work we present a 3D geological model of the SOM built with Geomodeller® using free-air gravity anomaly data from Topex and magnetic data from WDMAM. To obtain a reliable result, some constrains have been taken into account: (1) GEBCO data are used to establish the bathymetric level, (2) basement depth and geometry is calculated from multi-channel seismic profiles over the study area obtained from the Seismic Data Library System (SDLS), and (3) the analytic signal of total field magnetic anomalies has been used to limit the extension of the bodies that cause the PMA (Pacific Margin Anomaly).

All these data, together with additional geological and geophysical interpretation, have allowed to build the 3D model. The characterization of the sedimentary basins shape, the deep crust structure and Moho geometry, the volume of the magnetic bodies and the nature and geometry of the SOM margins will provide a better understanding of the complex SOM structure resulting from different tectonic phases since the Mesozoic and related to the Scotia-Drake opening.

The preliminary result shows a good fit between the observed and calculated gravimetric anomaly. We are currently working on the gravimetric inversion to obtain an optimal adjustment.

How to cite: Morales-Ocaña, C., Bohoyo, F., Escutia, C., Marín-Lechado, C., Druet, M., Rey-Moral, C., and Galindo-Zaldívar, J.: 3D geological modelling of the South Orkney Microcontinent (southern Scotia Arc, Antarctica) from seismic and potential field data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10699,, 2021.

Nick Thompson, Ulrich Salzmann, Adrián López Quirós, Carlota Escutia, Peter Bijl, Frida Hoem, Johan Etourneau, Marie-Alexandrine Sicre, Sabine Roignant, and Michael Amoo

The possible causes of the onset of Antarctic glaciation around the Eocene-Oligocene Transition (EOT), approximately 34 million years ago (~34Ma), are poorly understood. Uncertainties particularly remain over the role of the Drake Passage opening on the development of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), and how this affected both marine and terrestrial environments. A major obstacle in understanding the role of the opening Drake Passage and ACC in Cenozoic climate changes has been the lack of continuous records spanning the EOT from the region. Here we present new palynomorph data from ODP Leg 113 Site 696 Hole B, recording changes in terrestrial environments and paleoclimate across the EOT. The sporomorph assemblage reveals the presence of Nothofagus-dominated forests with secondary Podocarpaceae and an understory of angiosperms and cryptogams growing across much of the Northern Antarctic Peninsula and South Orkney Microcontinent during the late Eocene (~37.60-34.95 Ma). Palaeoclimate reconstructions show that these forests grew under wet temperate conditions, with mean annual temperature and precipitation around 12°C and 1650mm, respectively. Today, similar temperate Nothofagus-dominated mixed-podocarp forests occur in the temperate Valdivian region of southern Chile. At the onset of the EOT, the palynomorph assemblage indicates an unusual expansion of gymnosperms and cryptogams, accompanied by a rapid increase in taxa diversity between ca. 34 and 32 Ma. Sporomorph based climate reconstructions do not provide evidence for an abrupt cooling at the EOT but reveal the onset of prolonged cooling phases throughout the early Oligocene. A contemporaneous increase in reworked Mesozoic sporomorphs at the EOT is likely to be linked to frequent glacial advances from the Antarctic Peninsula and South Orkney Microcontinent, although iceberg-rafted debris from Antarctica cannot be ruled out. We conclude that climate instability and glacial related disturbance at the onset of the EOT facilitated the suppression of Nothofagus and the expansion of a more diverse vegetation with many pioneer taxa that were able to quickly colonise during glacial retreat cycles.

How to cite: Thompson, N., Salzmann, U., López Quirós, A., Escutia, C., Bijl, P., Hoem, F., Etourneau, J., Sicre, M.-A., Roignant, S., and Amoo, M.: Southern high latitude vegetation change across the Drake Passage region linked to prolonged intervals of climate cooling during the early Oligocene, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9503,, 2021.

Frida Hoem, Suning Hou, Matthew Huber, Francesca Sangiorgi, Henk Brinkhuis, and Peter Bijl

The opening of the Tasmanian Gateway during the Eocene and further deepening in the Oligocene is hypothesized to have reorganized ocean currents, preconditioning the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) to evolve into place. However, fundamental questions still remain on the past Southern Ocean structure. We here present reconstructions of latitudinal temperature gradients and the position of ocean frontal systems in the Australian sector of the Southern Ocean during the Oligocene. We generated new sea surface temperature (SST) and dinoflagellate cyst data from the West Tasman margin, ODP Site 1168. We compare these with other records around the Tasmanian Gateway, and with climate model simulations to analyze the paleoceanographic evolution during the Oligocene. The novel organic biomarker TEX86- SSTs from ODP Site 1168, range between 19.6 – 27.9°C (± 5.2°C, using the linear calibration by Kim et al., 2010), supported by temperate and open ocean dinoflagellate cyst assemblages. The data compilation, including existing TEX86-based SSTs from ODP Site 1172 in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, DSDP Site 274 offshore Cape Adare, DSDP Site 269 and IODP Site U1356 offshore the Wilkes Land Margin and terrestrial temperature proxy records from the Cape Roberts Project (CRP) on the Ross Sea continental shelf, show synchronous variability in temperature evolution between Antarctic and Australian sectors of the Southern Ocean. The SST gradients are around 10°C latitudinally across the Tasmanian Gateway throughout the early Oligocene, and increasing in the Late Oligocene. This increase can be explained by polar amplification/cooling, tectonic drift, strengthening of atmospheric currents and ocean currents. We suggest that the progressive cooling of Antarctica and the absence of mid-latitude cooling strengthened the westerly winds, which in turn could drive an intensification of the ACC and strengthening of Southern Ocean frontal systems.

How to cite: Hoem, F., Hou, S., Huber, M., Sangiorgi, F., Brinkhuis, H., and Bijl, P.: Oligocene sea-surface temperature gradients in the Southern Ocean related to Tasmanian Gateway widening: New TEX86 paleothermometry, dinoflagellate cyst data and climate model comparisons, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11103,, 2021.

Michael Amoo, Ulrich Salzmann, Peter K. Bijl, and Nick Thompson

Considered as one of the most significant climate reorganisations of the Cenozoic period, the Eocene-Oligocene (E/O) Transition (ca. 33.9-33.5 Ma) is characterised by global cooling coupled with glacial advance on Antarctica. Combined micropalaeontological (diatom and dinoflagellate) and sedimentological evidence hint of regional reorganisation of ocean currents around Antarctica, in association with the Eocene-Oligocene transition. The late Eocene to early Oligocene deepening of the Tasman Gateway resulted in the flow of warm surface waters from the Australo-Antarctic gulf into the southwestern Pacific Ocean.  However, the extent and effect of these changes in ocean circulation on regional terrestrial climate and vegetation across the E/O Transition is not readily known. Here, we present new well-dated, high resolution palynological (sporomorph) data from the East Tasman Plateau (ODP Site 1172) to reconstruct climate and vegetation dynamics from the late Eocene through to the early Oligocene. Results from our sporomorph data point to four vegetation communities occupying Tasmania under different precipitation and temperature regimes: (i) Paratropical rainforest along the coastlines and temperate rainforests at higher altitude of the hinterlands from 37.97-37.52 Ma; (ii) cool temperate forest expanding into areas previously occupied by the paratropical forests between 37.306-35.60 Ma; (iii) a complex mix of paratropical associations coexisting with frost-tolerant taxa, followed by a period of relative stability shown in the dominance of cold-temperate taxa from 35.50-33.36 Ma; (iv) a warm temperate forest present in the early Oligocene (33.25-33.06 Ma). Our sporomorph record showed a general cooling trend from the latest-middle Eocene to the late Eocene (37.97-35.60 Ma), fluctuations between warm and cold climates (35.50 – 34.19 Ma), a period of relative stable cooling across the E/O transition (33.94-33.5 Ma), and a rather unusual rapid warming right after the E/O transition (earliest Oligocene; 33.36 - 33.06 Ma). Our quantitative estimates of terrestrial temperature change and palaeoecological reconstructions show a close link with previously published dinoflagellate cyst data from this same study site, suggesting a possible vegetation and climate response to tectonic changes (most likely the tectonic opening and deepening of the Tasman Gateway ca. 35.5 Ma) and relative short-term regional reorganisation of ocean currents.

Keywords: Antarctica, Eocene-Oligocene Transition, sporomorph, temperate rainforest, Tasman Gateway

How to cite: Amoo, M., Salzmann, U., Bijl, P. K., and Thompson, N.: New palynological data from the East Tasman Plateau (ODP Site 1172) indicate rapid earliest Oligocene warming., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9831,, 2021.

Maxine King, Jenny Gales, Jan Sverre Laberg, Robert McKay, Laura De Santis, Denise Kulhanek, Phillip Hosegood, Antony Morris, Michele Rebesco, and IODP Expedition 374 Scientists

The repeated proximity of West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) ice to the Ross Sea continental shelf break has been inferred to directly influence sedimentary processes occurring on the continental slope. Sediment delivery to the shelf edge by grounded ice sheets during past glacials may have influenced turbidity current and debris flow activity, thus the records of these processes can be used to study the past history of the WAIS. However, the continental slope record may also be affected by density-driven or geostrophic oceanic bottom currents, therefore additionally providing an archive on their history and interplay with depositional mechanisms that are driven by ice sheets. Here, we investigate the upper 120.94m of one sediment core (length: 208.58mbsf) from Hole U1525A collected by International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 374 in 2018. Hole U1525A is located on the south-western levee of the Hillary Canyon (Ross Sea, Antarctica) and the depositional lobe of the nearby trough-mouth fan. Using core descriptions, grain size analysis, and physical properties datasets, we develop a lithofacies scheme that allows construction of a detailed depositional model and environmental history of past ice sheet-ocean interaction at the eastern Ross Sea continental shelf break/slope for the past 2.4 Ma. The earliest Pleistocene interval (2.4-1.35 Ma) is interpreted as a largely hemipelagic environment dominated by ice-rafting and reworking/deposition by relatively persistent bottom current activity. Microfossil barren, finely interlaminated sediments are interpreted as contourites deposited under the presence of multi-year sea-ice. During the latter part of the early Pleistocene (1.35-0.8 Ma), bottom current activity was weaker and turbiditic processes more common, likely related to the increased proximity of grounded ice at the shelf edge. Much of the fine-grained sediments were probably deposited via gravitational settlement from turbid plumes, and a sustained nepheloid layer. The thickest interval of turbidite interlamination occurs after ~1 Ma, following the onset of the “Mid-Pleistocene Transition” (MPT), interpreted as a time when most terrestrial ice sheets increased in size and glacial periods were longer and more extreme. Sedimentation in the mid-late Pleistocene (< ~0.8 Ma) was dominated by glacigenic debris flow deposition, as the trough mouth fan that dominates the eastern Ross Sea continental shelf prograded and expanded over the site. More frequent and longer-lasting fully-extended glacial conditions allowed the continued progradation of the trough-mouth fan across the core site. These findings will help to improve estimations of WAIS ice extent in future Ross Sea shelf-based modelling studies, and provide a basis for more detailed analysis of the formation and growth of the WAIS under distinct oceanographic conditions.

How to cite: King, M., Gales, J., Laberg, J. S., McKay, R., De Santis, L., Kulhanek, D., Hosegood, P., Morris, A., Rebesco, M., and Expedition 374 Scientists, I.: Timing, frequency and nature of sedimentary processes operating on the eastern Ross Sea continental slope during the Pleistocene- a record from IODP Expedition 374, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3009,, 2021.

Roland Neofitu, Chris Mark, Suzanne O'Connell, Samuel Kelley, Delia Rösel, Thomas Zack, and J. Stephen Daly

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.

Delaney E. Robinson, Julia S. Wellner, Karsten Gohl, and Benedict T.I. Reinardy and the IODP Expedition 379 Scientists

Modern observations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) show relatively warm ocean water causing negative changes in ice-sheet mass. The largest ice mass loss in the WAIS occurs in the Amundsen Sea region, where warm water flows onto the shelf and melts the marine-based ice shelves, a process with the potential to lead to full collapse of the WAIS. Geologic records from similar and warmer climate conditions than today are required to understand the role of changes affecting the Amundsen Sea drainage sector in steering past WAIS dynamics. International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 379 successfully recovered sediment drill cores from two sites on the continental rise in the Amundsen Sea, West Antarctica. Both sites are located on a large sediment drift that provides a continuous, long-term record of glacial history in a drainage basin that is fed exclusively by the WAIS. Sediments at both sites are associated with depositional processes related to glacial extent on the shelf. Repeated alternations of two major facies groups composed of dark-gray laminated silty clay and massive/bioturbated greenish-gray, clast-bearing mud are interpreted to represent cycles of glacial and interglacial periods. High-resolution sedimentological analyses define characteristics that vary within the two broad sedimentary facies, helping provide constraints on depositional processes of the sediments and controlling WAIS dynamics.

Detailed investigations were conducted on Miocene to Pliocene strata using grain size and shape analysis, combined with X-Ray Fluorescence data and computer tomography scans, as well as detailed thin section analysis. Laminated silty clay intervals contain consistently fine-grained sediments dominated by terrigenous components that were supplied by downslope transport during glacial periods. Massive/bioturbated muds with ice rafted debris (IRD) display variable grain size trends accompanied by changes in particular elemental ratios indicating increased supply of biogenic components and possibly reduced delivery of terrigenous detritus during interglacial periods. The boundaries between massive, interglacial facies and laminated, glacial facies are usually sharp; although occasionally, a more gradual interglacial-glacial transition is observed. Different sedimentation patterns suggest fluctuations in downslope transport and bottom current intensities that are connected to ice sheet extent on the West Antarctic continental shelf. Further analysis may reveal facies characteristics that vary with glacial-interglacial cycles and allow improved interpretation of past WAIS dynamics and Southern Ocean circulation.

How to cite: Robinson, D. E., Wellner, J. S., Gohl, K., and Reinardy, B. T. I. and the IODP Expedition 379 Scientists: Sedimentary signature of past West Antarctic Ice Sheet and ocean dynamics from deep sea drill cores in the Amundsen Sea (IODP Expedition 379), EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13136,, 2021.

Stine Bjordal Olsen, Tom Arne Rydningen, Jan Sverre Laberg, Amando Putra Ersaid Lasabuda, and Stig-Morten Knutsen

The earliest Cenozoic evolution of the Mid-Norwegian and Lofoten-Vesterålen continental margin (~65-70o N) involved rifting, opening and finally seafloor spreading, initiating the Norwegian-Greenland Sea. These events resulted in large morphological and structural variations along the margin, creating accommodation space in a deep- to shallow-marine setting that allowed for accumulation of the Miocene sediments of the Kai- and Molo formations. The Cenozoic seismic stratigraphic correlation between the wide Mid-Norwegian and the narrow Lofoten-Vesterålen margin is poorly established. We therefore here analyze a large database of seismic data and exploration wellbores to give new insights on the sedimentary processes and paleo-environments during the Miocene evolution of this complex continental margin segment.

Steeply dipping clinoforms of the Molo Formation testify to a Miocene coastal outbuilding on the eastern part of the northern Mid-Norwegian margin. West of this, elongated sediment accumulations oriented in an along-slope SSW-NNE direction characterize the palaeo-slope. These are up to ~200 km long, between 40 and 110 km wide and up to ~520 m thick. An internal divergent reflection configuration characterize the elongated accumulations and they typically display a progressive upslope onlapping relationship onto an overall gently westward-dipping underlying morphology that includes domes, highs and ridges. Small incisions are frequently observed in association with the upslope onlap. These characteristics are altogether typical of contourites deposited from ocean currents. In the Vøring Basin, the internal seismic configuration can be described as consisting of low to moderate amplitude parallel-layered reflections, which are interpreted to represent a deep-water hemipelagic setting.

On the much narrower Lofoten-Vesterålen margin, parts of the Kai Formation show a seismic reflection configuration similar to what is observed on the northern Mid-Norwegian margin (e.g. elongated character, divergent internal reflections). These sediments are therefore also interpreted to be contouritic- and hemipelagic deposits. In contrast to the northern Mid-Norwegian contourites, the Lofoten-Vesterålen contourites are generally thinner, and they onlap onto an underlying steeply dipping continental slope, a slope which is also characterized by submarine canyons. Downslope of these, depocenters oriented perpendicular to the margin (i.e. slope-parallel), suggest influence of downslope processes through the canyons.

Our preliminary results show the presence of several contourite build-ups on the investigated margin, indicating the occurrence of a well-established ocean circulation with a persistent current direction along the Norwegian margin during deposition of the Kai Formation. The main source area for these sediments were likely south of the Mid-Norwegian margin. Coastal outbuilding in the Molo Formation and canyon-fed sediment input also testify to a sediment input from the east in the Miocene, and some of these were likely also re-distributed by ocean currents.

How to cite: Bjordal Olsen, S., Rydningen, T. A., Laberg, J. S., Lasabuda, A. P. E., and Knutsen, S.-M.: Miocene continental margin growth dominated by deposits from ocean currents – an example from offshore Norway, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8688,, 2021.

Vårin Trælvik Eilertsen, Rydningen Tom Arne, Matthias Forwick, Monica Winsborrow, and Jan Sverre Laberg

The Eurasian Ice Sheet Complex was the world’s third largest ice mass during the last glacial maximum (LGM), and included the British, Fennoscandian and Svalbard–Barents Sea ice sheets. Of these three, the mostly marine-based Svalbard-Barents Sea Ice Sheet (SBIS) is the least well constrained in terms of ice sheet dynamics and deglacial retreat patterns. Improving the understanding of the behavior and decay of this marine paleo-ice sheet can provide knowledge that is relevant to understanding the future evolution of the marine terminating ice margins in Greenland and Antarctica, which are today undergoing rapid retreat and thinning.

We present high-resolution TOPAS sub-bottom profiler data and multi-proxy analyses of four sediment gravity cores (1.15 to 5.05 m long) retrieved from water depths of c. 250-550 m in a trough south of Kvitøya, NW Barents Sea. The data were collected during the Nansen Legacy (https:/ Paleo-cruise in 2018, with the aim of reconstructing the patterns and timing of deglaciation of the SBIS and postglacial environmental changes in the northern Barents Sea. The data show a succession of up to 10 m high and 400 m wide ridges, interpreted to be recessional push-moraines, representing small still-stands or re-advances of the ice front during its retreat in southwesterly direction. An up to 40 m high and 20 km long sedimentary wedge in the central and western part of the study area buries some of these moraines. This wedge is interpreted to be a grounding zone wedge representing a major still-stand or re-advance during the deglaciation.

The gravity cores are located distal to, on the distal slope and on top of the grounding zone wedge. A muddy diamict defines the lowermost unit in each core. It is interpreted to be primarily subglacial till. This till is covered by laminated mud, interpreted to represent sedimentation from meltwater plumes that emanated from the nearby ice margin. Massive marine mud containing scattered clasts (the clasts are interpreted to be ice rafted debris) define the uppermost unit in all cores. This is suggested to represent deposition from suspension settling and ice rafting in a glacier-distal environment at the end of the last glacial, as well as during modern conditions.

Radiocarbon dates (submitted for dating) will provide a minimum age for the formation of the grounding zone wedge and the recessional moraines in front of it. This will improve the chronology on the deglacial events forming these deposits and landforms. Together with detailed multi-proxy analyses of the sedimentary units, this will also provide new knowledge about the development from glacial conditions to a glacier-proximal and –distal, and an open marine environment from the last glacial to the present.

How to cite: Trælvik Eilertsen, V., Tom Arne, R., Forwick, M., Winsborrow, M., and Laberg, J. S.: Depositional environments in the northern Barents Sea, from the last glacial to the present — preliminary results, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12617,, 2021.

Nina-Marie Lešić, Katharina Streuff, Gerhard Kuhn, Gerhard Bohrmann, and Tilo von Dobeneck

The ice cap of the sub-Antarctic island South Georgia is influenced by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and is hence more sensitive to changing climate than the significantly larger and more isolated Antarctic ice sheets. Furthermore, the sediment deposits in fjords and glacially eroded troughs around the island have superbly archived glacier behavior, environmental and climatic changes since the late Pleistocene. This makes South Georgia an attractive target to study past climate variability in the Southern Hemisphere. Nevertheless, the ice sheet’s extents and dynamics during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), the Antarctic Cold Reversal (ACR), and the Holocene deglaciation phase are still poorly understood. Although several studies on land and in marine near-shore areas of South Georgia have addressed this, only few studies are based on marine sediment cores from the continental shelf. In this study, we use ten gravity cores from three different troughs on the southern and northwestern shelf to further investigate the climatic and glaciological evolution of South Georgia during and since the LGM.

Multi-proxy sedimentological analyses carried out in this study include core logging, XRF geochemical profiling, XRD analyses on bulk sediment and clay fraction, measurements of physical properties, magnetic susceptibility, grain size distribution and shear strength. For the Drygalski Trough on the southern shelf, lithofacies description reveals the deposition of stratified, predominantly sandy diamicton and greenish-grey massive to laminated, sometimes bioturbated mud with variable amounts of clasts. First radiocarbon ages from benthic foraminifera constrain the deposition of the diamicton, interpreted as waterlain till, on the outer shelf to the LGM. Inferred linear sedimentation rates attest to low sediment input on the outer shelf during the LGM (34 cm/ka) and the Holocene (23-32 cm/ka). In contrast, a higher sedimentation rate (114 cm/ka) between 14.7 and 13.7 cal ka BP is likely associated with enhanced erosion due to a possible re-advance of South Georgia’s glaciers during the ACR’s colder and wetter climate. For island-proximal cores, sedimentation rates are generally higher than on the outer shelf with rates of 80-2300 cm/ka during the Mid- to Late Holocene. This stronger fluctuation of sedimentation rates is due to higher temporal resolution of the dated sediments compared to the outer shelf. Grain-size distribution on the outer shelf shows a gravel content of 1-28 wt% in the diamicton facies from the LGM and 1-5 wt% in a sediment interval dated to 16.8 cal ka BP. This sediment interval is also characterized by a high content of pebbles, likely reflecting an increased input of IRD. The overlying ACR and Holocene show a low gravel content of 0-0.7 wt%. The diamicton suggests that ice-proximal conditions prevailed on the outer shelf during the LGM and therefore supports the theory of a shelf-wide glaciation. The combination of a low-resolution sediment core from the outer shelf and island-proximal high-resolution sediment cores has the potential to give new insights into South Georgia’s climate history from the Late Pleistocene to the Late Holocene.

How to cite: Lešić, N.-M., Streuff, K., Kuhn, G., Bohrmann, G., and von Dobeneck, T.: The late Pleistocene and Holocene glaciation history of sub-Antarctic South Georgia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6763,, 2021.

Julia Gutierrez-Pastor, Carlota Escutia, Ursula Röhl, Ariadna Salabarnada, and Francisco Jimenez-Espejo

During the Holocene, 180 m of diatom ooze sediments were deposited in the Antarctic Wilkes Land margin continental shelf at site U1357A (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 318, Escutia et al., 2011). Holocene sediments are dominated by rhythmic laminated deposits above a poorly sorted gravelly siltstone diamicton from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). CT-scans reveal three events of gravel/sand/silt sediments interbedded within the laminated sediments and interpreted as ice rafted debris (IRD).  Two of these events (from 185,1 to 185,45 and 174, 8 to 175,37 meters below seafloor, mbsf) are characterized by dispersed large clasts (1-5cm) within a muddy matrix at the base, transitioning to the top to millimetre-size clasts that are either aligned with the dark and light laminae or dispersed. A third event (176,2 to 177,2 mbsf) is characterized by a structureless sediment sequence with high concentrations of dispersed clasts that are up to 1-2 cm size. We used ImageJ/Fiji software, to conduct a quantitative analysis of grains bigger than 1mm in CT Scan 3D images. Measured parameters include grain size (Feret length), grain orientation (Feret angle), circularity and roundness, among other. In addition, grey scale profiles have been created from the sediment CT-scan images as a density proxy. Quantitative data and density profiles have been used to aid the sedimentological characterization of the Holocene deglaciation section and to infer depositional environment and patterns of deglaciation.

Escutia, C., Brinkhuis, H., Klaus, A., and the Expedition 318 Scientists, Proc. IODP, 318: Site 1357. Tokyo (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International, Inc.). doi:10.2204/​iodp.proc.318.105.2011


How to cite: Gutierrez-Pastor, J., Escutia, C., Röhl, U., Salabarnada, A., and Jimenez-Espejo, F.: Sedimentological characterization of coarse sediments within the deglaciation sequence in the east Antarctic Wilkes Land margin, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-11181,, 2021.

Jan Magne Cederstrøm, Sunniva Rutledal, Eivind W. N. Støren, and Willem G. M. van der Bilt

Ice rafted debris (IRD) in marine sedimentary sequences provide critical information about the evolution of ice sheets. These include enigmatic phases of ice sheet instability like Heinrich events, Dansgaard-Oeschger cycles or Bond events. Higher sampling resolution and greater spatial coverage in IRD records can help gain a better understanding of paleoaclimate, and help predict the future behavior of ice sheets. However, creating high-resolution IRD-records from marine sediment cores is a manual time- and labor-intensive laboratory procedure. By allowing for rapid and non-destructive quantification of micrometer (µm) scale particles, Computed Tomography (CT) holds the potential to increase both resolution and the pace of analysis. We demonstrate the potential of this approach with results from both experimental results and application on conventionally analyzed records. By using basic image processing tools on CT-imagery of phantom-boxes (replicating marine sediment cores with IRD) we counted sand-particles (>150 µm) of different mineralogies ranging from 25-2000 particles/g. The CT-results proved to match the manual counts with a r2 of up to 0.99 and a P-value of 0.00. Further, when applying the method on segments of natural marine sediment cores with published IRD-records, we were able to reconstruct the same trends as continuous counts with a 5 times higher spatial resolution. In addition, this non-destructive method gave further information on the impact of bioturbation, grainsize distribution and the sedimentary structure of IRD-deposits. In conclusion, this work can help the field to gain an even better understanding of the behavior of ice sheets by optimizing the efficiency and spatial resolution of IRD-records, while at the same time gaining a better understanding on the processes affecting the IRD-deposits.

How to cite: Cederstrøm, J. M., Rutledal, S., Støren, E. W. N., and van der Bilt, W. G. M.: Semi-automated quantification of Ice Rafted Debris in sediment archives with Computed Tomography., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10455,, 2021.

Adrian McCallum and Kabir Suara

High spatial and temporal resolution oceanographic data from across the Arctic Ocean are essential to better constrain climate models. Ongoing satellite measurements and mooring and autonomous profiler data are valuable, but many regions and temporal periods are inadequately surveyed, particularly outside summer months.

Over-ice scientific research expeditions can address these deficiencies because they are cost-effective and can be utilised at almost any time and at any location to obtain high spatiotemporal resolution data; unique peer-reviewed findings from such expeditions are now being published. For example, recently examined data from the Makarov Basin, obtained in April, during the 2011 Catlin Arctic Survey (McCallum and Suara, 2020) shows a surface mixed layer extending to a depth of ~40 m and buoyancy frequencies exceeding 0.025 s−1, indicating very strong thermohaline stratification, probably due to spring ice melt.

A model for such expedition-based science might comprise: a sympathetic and supportive scientific community, government bureaucracies willing to support and enable more ‘risky’ ventures, and funding bodies, including private industry, who are willing to sponsor and support, relatively inexpensive, high quality polar science.

Future acceptance and utilisation of over-ice scientific research expeditions has the potential to enable the collection of otherwise unobtainable glaciological, oceanographical and meteorological data in poorly sampled spatiotemporal regimes to allow better constraining and development of regional and global climate models.

How to cite: McCallum, A. and Suara, K.: The value of expedition-based science for capturing otherwise unobtainable Arctic oceanographical data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1852,, 2021.