Continental shelf drift deposit indicates non-steady state Antarctic bottom water production in the Holocene

Peter T. Harris*, Giuliano Brancolini, Leanne Armand, Martina Busetti, Robin J. Beaman, Giovanna Giorgetti, Massimo Presti, Fabio Trincardi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


A late Quaternary, current-lain sediment drift deposit over 30 m in thickness has been discovered on the continental shelf of East Antarctica in an 850 m deep glacial trough off George Vth Land. Radiocarbon dating indicates that a period of rapid deposition on the drift (averaging 290 cm/kyr) occurred in the mid-Holocene, between about 3000 and 5000 yr before present (yr BP). Slower deposition rates of around 10 cm/kyr, during the past 0-3000 yr and from 5000 to about 13000 yr BP, coincides with the deposition of bioturbated, ice-rafted debris (IRD) rich, sandy mud under an energetic bottom current regime. In contrast, the mid-Holocene (3000-5000 yr BP) sediments are fine-grained, laminated to cross-laminated with minimal IRD content, and are contemporaneous with a period of warmer marine conditions with less sea ice production. This pattern suggests that bottom currents were weaker than present day in the mid-Holocene, and that the rate of dense bottom water production was reduced at that time. This scenario is consistent with the hypothesis of non-steady state rates of Antarctic bottom water production through the Holocene as recently proposed by Broecker and his colleagues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Geology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Antarctica
  • Bottom water
  • Continental shelf
  • Ocean circulation
  • Ripple cross-lamination
  • Sediment drift


Dive into the research topics of 'Continental shelf drift deposit indicates non-steady state Antarctic bottom water production in the Holocene'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this