Late Quaternary environment of southern Windmill Islands, East Antarctica

Helen Kirkup*, Martin Melles, Damian B. Gore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)
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Analyses on a sediment core collected from the Windmill Islands, East Antarctica are used to demonstrate that climatic conditions in this region prior to the Last Glacial Maximum were similar to those during the Holocene and that the area was overrun by ice at some stage between 26 kyr BP and the onset of biogenic sedimentation 11 kyr BP. The 10.9 m long core was taken from a marine inlet (epishelf lake) on Peterson Island and is predominantly a sapropel of Holocene age. Material in the lower part of the core includes a till layer lain down during the last glacial in the region and below this till is material which has been dated to 26 kyr BP. Geochemical analyses conducted on the core demonstrate similarities between the Holocene sequence and the preglacial material. The Holocene sequence shows enhanced biogenic production and periods of open water around 4 kyr BP, suggesting a climatic optimum around that time. A subsequent decline in conditions, probably a colder climate with greater extent of sea ice, is evident from 1 kyr BP to the present. The data support results from ice core studies on nearby Law Dome, which suggest there was a period of warming around 11.5 to 9 kyr BP, that recent summer temperatures are low relative to a few centuries ago, and that increasing winter temperatures are the main contributing factor to a recent overall warming in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-394
Number of pages10
JournalAntarctic Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2002 Cambridge University Press. Reprinted from Antarctic science.

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