A 14.5-million-year record of East Antarctic Ice Sheet fluctuations from the central Transantarctic Mountains, constrained with cosmogenic 3He, 10Be, 21Ne, and 26Al

Balter-Kennedy, Allie; Bromley, Gordon; Balco, Greg; Thomas, Holly; Jackson, Margaret S.

The distribution of moraines in the Transantarctic Mountains affords direct constraint of past ice-marginal positions of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS). Here, we describe glacial geologic observations and cosmogenic-nuclide exposure ages from Roberts Massif, an ice-free area in the central Transantarctic Mountains. We measured cosmogenic inline-formula3He, inline-formula10Be, inline-formula21Ne, and inline-formula26Al in 168 dolerite and sandstone boulders collected from 24 distinct deposits. Our data show that a cold-based EAIS was present, in a configuration similar to today, for many periods over the last inline-formula∼14.5 Myr, including the mid-Miocene, late Pliocene, and early to Middle Pleistocene. Moraine ages at Roberts Massif increase with distance from, and elevation above, the modern ice margin, which is consistent with a persistent EAIS extent during glacial maxima and slow, isostatic uplift of the massif itself in response to trough incision by outlet glaciers. We also employ the exceptionally high cosmogenic-nuclide concentrations in several boulders, along with multi-isotope measurements in sandstone boulders, to infer extremely low erosion rates (inline-formula≪5 cm Myrinline-formula−1) over the period covered by our record. Although our data are not a direct measure of ice volume, the Roberts Massif glacial record indicates that the EAIS was present and similar to its current configuration during at least some periods when the global temperature was believed to be warmer and/or atmospheric inline-formulaCO2 concentrations were likely higher than today.

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Balter-Kennedy, Allie / Bromley, Gordon / Balco, Greg / et al: A 14.5-million-year record of East Antarctic Ice Sheet fluctuations from the central Transantarctic Mountains, constrained with cosmogenic 3He, 10Be, 21Ne, and 26Al. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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