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Title: Iceberg Alley and Subantarctic Ice and Ocean Dynamics
International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 382, Iceberg Alley and Subantarctic Ice and Ocean Dynamics, investigated the long-term climate history of Antarctica, seeking to understand how polar ice sheets responded to changes in insolation and atmospheric CO2 in the past and how ice sheet evolution influenced global sea level and vice versa. Five sites (U1534–U1538) were drilled east of the Drake Passage: two sites at 53.2°S at the northern edge of the Scotia Sea and three sites at 57.4°–59.4°S in the southern Scotia Sea. We recovered continuously deposited late Neogene sediments to reconstruct the past history and variability in Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) mass loss and associated changes in oceanic and atmospheric circulation. The sites from the southern Scotia Sea (Sites U1536–U1538) will be used to study the Neogene flux of icebergs through “Iceberg Alley,” the main pathway along which icebergs calved from the margin of the AIS travel as they move equatorward into the warmer waters of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). In particular, sediments from this area will allow us to assess the magnitude of iceberg flux during key times of AIS evolution, including the following: • The middle Miocene glacial intensification of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, • The mid-Pliocene warm more » period, • The late Pliocene glacial expansion of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, • The mid-Pleistocene transition (MPT), and • The “warm interglacials” and glacial terminations of the last 800 ky. We will use the geochemical provenance of iceberg-rafted detritus and other glacially eroded material to determine regional sources of AIS mass loss. We will also address interhemispheric phasing of ice sheet growth and decay, study the distribution and history of land-based versus marine-based ice sheets around the continent over time, and explore the links between AIS variability and global sea level. By comparing north–south variations across the Scotia Sea between the Pirie Basin (Site U1538) and the Dove Basin (Sites U1536 and U1537), Expedition 382 will also deliver critical information on how climate changes in the Southern Ocean affect ocean circulation through the Drake Passage, meridional overturning in the region, water mass production, ocean–atmosphere CO2 transfer by wind-induced upwelling, sea ice variability, bottom water outflow from the Weddell Sea, Antarctic weathering inputs, and changes in oceanic and atmospheric fronts in the vicinity of the ACC. Comparing changes in dust proxy records between the Scotia Sea and Antarctic ice cores will also provide a detailed reconstruction of changes in the Southern Hemisphere westerlies on millennial and orbital timescales for the last 800 ky. Extending the ocean dust record beyond the last 800 ky will help to evaluate dust-climate couplings since the Pliocene, the potential role of dust in iron fertilization and atmospheric CO2 drawdown during glacials, and whether dust input to Antarctica played a role in the MPT. The principal scientific objective of Subantarctic Front Sites U1534 and U1535 at the northern limit of the Scotia Sea is to reconstruct and understand how intermediate water formation in the southwest Atlantic responds to changes in connectivity between the Atlantic and Pacific basins, the “cold water route.” The Subantarctic Front contourite drift, deposited between 400 and 2000 m water depth on the northern flank of an east–west trending trough off the Chilean continental shelf, is ideally situated to monitor millennial- to orbital-scale variability in the export of Antarctic Intermediate Water beneath the Subantarctic Front. During Expedition 382, we recovered continuously deposited sediments from this drift spanning the late Pleistocene (from ~0.78 Ma to recent) and from the late Pliocene (~3.1–2.6 Ma). These sites are expected to yield a wide array of paleoceanographic records that can be used to interpret past changes in the density structure of the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean, track migrations of the Subantarctic Front, and give insights into the role and evolution of the cold water route over significant climate episodes, including the following: • The most recent warm interglacials of the late Pleistocene and • The intensification of Northern Hemisphere glaciation. « less
Authors:
; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1326927
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10231017
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the International Ocean Discovery Program
Volume:
382
ISSN:
2377-3189
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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We moved to a nearby alternate site on the continental slope (U1525) to core a single hole with a record complementary to the upper part of the section recovered at Site U1524. We returned to Site U1524 3 days later, after the sea ice cleared. We then cored Hole U1524C with the rotary core barrel with the intention of reaching the target depth of 1000 m DSF. However, we were forced to terminate Hole U1524C at 441.9 m DSF due to a mechanical failure with the vessel that resulted in termination of all drilling operations and a return to Lyttelton 16 days earlier than scheduled. The loss of 39% of our operational days significantly impacted our ability to achieve all Expedition 374 objectives as originally planned. In particular, we were not able to obtain the deeper time record of the middle Miocene on the continental rise or abyssal sequences that would have provided a continuous and contemporaneous archive to the high-quality (but discontinuous) record from Site U1521 on the continental shelf. The mechanical failure also meant we could not recover sediment cores from proposed Site RSCR-19A, which was targeted to obtain a high-fidelity, continuous record of upper Neogene and Quaternary pelagic/hemipelagic sedimentation. Despite our failure to recover a shelf-to-rise transect for the Miocene, a continental shelf-to-rise transect for the Pliocene to Pleistocene interval is possible through comparison of the high-quality records from Site U1522 with those from Site U1525 and legacy cores from the Antarctic Geological Drilling Project (ANDRILL).« less
  4. The marine-based West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is currently locally retreating because of shifting wind-driven oceanic currents that transport warm waters toward the ice margin, resulting in ice shelf thinning and accelerated mass loss. Previous results from geologic drilling on Antarctica’s continental margins show significant variability in ice sheet extent during the late Neogene and Quaternary. Climate and ice sheet models indicate a fundamental role for oceanic heat in controlling ice sheet variability over at least the past 20 My. Although evidence for past ice sheet variability is available from ice-proximal marine settings, sedimentary sequences from the continental shelf andmore »rise are required to evaluate the extent of past ice sheet variability and the associated forcings and feedbacks. International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 374 drilled a latitudinal and depth transect of five sites from the outer continental shelf to rise in the central Ross Sea to resolve Neogene and Quaternary relationships between climatic and oceanic change and WAIS evolution. The Ross Sea was targeted because numerical ice sheet models indicate that this sector of Antarctica responds sensitively to changes in ocean heat flux. Expedition 374 was designed for optimal data-model integration to enable an improved understanding of Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) mass balance during warmer-than-present climates (e.g., the Pleistocene “super interglacials,” the mid-Pliocene, and the Miocene Climatic Optimum). The principal goals of Expedition 374 were to: 1. Evaluate the contribution of West Antarctica to far-field ice volume and sea level estimates; 2. Reconstruct ice-proximal oceanic and atmospheric temperatures to quantify past polar amplification; 3. Assess the role of oceanic forcing (e.g., temperature and sea level) on AIS variability; 4. Identify the sensitivity of the AIS to Earth’s orbital configuration under a variety of climate boundary conditions; and 5. Reconstruct Ross Sea paleobathymetry to examine relationships between seafloor geometry, ice sheet variability, and global climate. To achieve these objectives, postcruise studies will: 1. Use data and models to reconcile intervals of maximum Neogene and Quaternary ice advance and retreat with far-field records of eustatic sea level; 2. Reconstruct past changes in oceanic and atmospheric temperatures using a multiproxy approach; 3. Reconstruct Neogene and Quaternary sea ice margin fluctuations and correlate these records to existing inner continental shelf records; 4. Examine relationships among WAIS variability, Earth’s orbital configuration, oceanic temperature and circulation, and atmospheric pCO2; and 5. Constrain the timing of Ross Sea continental shelf overdeepening and assess its impact on Neogene and Quaternary ice dynamics. Expedition 374 departed from Lyttelton, New Zealand, in January 2018 and returned in March 2018. We recovered 1292.70 m of high-quality core from five sites spanning the early Miocene to late Quaternary. Three sites were cored on the continental shelf (Sites U1521, U1522, and U1523). At Site U1521, we cored a 650 m thick sequence of interbedded diamictite and diatom-rich mudstone penetrating seismic Ross Sea Unconformity 4 (RSU4). The depositional reconstructions of past glacial and open-marine conditions at this site will provide unprecedented insight into environmental change on the Antarctic continental shelf during the late early and middle Miocene. At Site U1522, we cored a discontinuous late Miocene to Pleistocene sequence of glacial and glaciomarine strata from the outer shelf with the primary objective of penetrating and dating RSU3, which is interpreted to reflect the first continental shelf–wide expansion of East and West Antarctic ice streams. Site U1523, located on the outer continental shelf, targeted a sediment drift beneath the westward-flowing Antarctic Slope Current (ASC) to test the hypothesis that changes in ASC vigor regulate ocean heat flux onto the continental shelf and thus ice sheet mass balance. We also cored two sites on the continental rise and slope. At Site U1524, we recovered a Plio–Pleistocene sedimentary sequence from the levee of the Hillary Canyon, one of the largest conduits of Antarctic Bottom Water from the continental shelf to the abyssal ocean. Site U1524 was designed to penetrate into middle Miocene and older strata, but coring was initially interrupted by drifting sea ice that forced us to abandon coring in Hole U1524A at 399.5 m drilling depth below seafloor (DSF). We moved to a nearby alternate site on the continental slope (Site U1525) to core a single hole designed to complement the record at Site U1524. We returned to Site U1524 after the sea ice cleared and cored Hole U1524C with the rotary core barrel system with the intention of reaching the target depth of 1000 m DSF. However, we were forced to terminate Hole U1524C at 441.9 m DSF because of a mechanical failure with the vessel that resulted in termination of all drilling operations and forced us to return to Lyttelton 16 days earlier than scheduled. The loss of 39% of our operational days significantly impacted our ability to achieve all Expedition 374 objectives. In particular, we were not able to recover continuous middle Miocene sequences from the continental rise designed to complement the discontinuous record from continental shelf Site U1521. The mechanical failure also meant we could not recover cores from proposed Site RSCR-19A, which was targeted to obtain a high-fidelity, continuous record of upper Neogene and Quaternary pelagic/hemipelagic sedimentation. Despite our failure to recover a continental shelf-to-rise Miocene transect, records from Sites U1522, U1524, and U1525 and legacy cores from the Antarctic Geological Drilling Project (ANDRILL) can be integrated to develop a shelf-to-rise Plio–Pleistocene transect.« less
  5. The Amundsen Sea sector of Antarctica has long been considered the most vulnerable part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) because of the great water depth at the grounding line, a subglacial bed seafloor deepening toward the interior of the continent, and the absence of substantial ice shelves. Glaciers in this configuration are thought to be susceptible to rapid or runaway retreat. Ice flowing into the Amundsen Sea Embayment is undergoing the most rapid changes of any sector of the Antarctic ice sheets outside the Antarctic Peninsula, including substantial grounding-line retreat over recent decades, as observed from satellite data.more »Recent models suggest that a threshold leading to the collapse of WAIS in this sector may have been already crossed and that much of the ice sheet could be lost even under relatively moderate greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Drill cores from the Amundsen Sea provide tests of several key questions about controls on ice sheet stability. The cores offer a direct offshore record of glacial history in a sector that is exclusively influenced by ice draining the WAIS, which allows clear comparisons between the WAIS history and low-latitude climate records. Today, relatively warm (modified) Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) is impinging onto the Amundsen Sea shelf and causing melting under ice shelves and at the grounding line of the WAIS in most places. Reconstructions of past CDW intrusions can assess the ties between warm water upwelling and large-scale changes in past grounding-line positions. Carrying out these reconstructions offshore from the drainage basin that currently has the most substantial negative mass balance of ice anywhere in Antarctica is thus of prime interest to future predictions. The scientific objectives for this expedition are built on hypotheses about WAIS dynamics and related paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic conditions. The main objectives are: 1. To test the hypothesis that WAIS collapses occurred during the Neogene and Quaternary and, if so, when and under which environmental conditions; 2. To obtain ice-proximal records of ice sheet dynamics in the Amundsen Sea that correlate with global records of ice-volume changes and proxy records for atmospheric and ocean temperatures; 3. To study the stability of a marine-based WAIS margin and how warm deepwater incursions control its position on the shelf; 4. To find evidence for the earliest major grounded WAIS advances onto the middle and outer shelf; 5. To test the hypothesis that the first major WAIS growth was related to the uplift of the Marie Byrd Land dome. International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 379 completed two very successful drill sites on the continental rise of the Amundsen Sea. Site U1532 is located on a large sediment drift, now called the Resolution Drift, and it penetrated to 794 m with 90% recovery. We collected almost-continuous cores from recent age through the Pleistocene and Pliocene and into the upper Miocene. At Site U1533, we drilled 383 m (70% recovery) into the more condensed sequence at the lower flank of the same sediment drift. The cores of both sites contain unique records that will enable study of the cyclicity of ice sheet advance and retreat processes as well as ocean-bottom water circulation and water mass changes. In particular, Site U1532 revealed a sequence of Pliocene sediments with an excellent paleomagnetic record for high-resolution climate change studies of the previously sparsely sampled Pacific sector of the West Antarctic margin. Despite the drilling success at these sites, the overall expedition experienced three unexpected difficulties that affected many of the scientific objectives: 1. The extensive sea ice on the continental shelf prevented us from drilling any of the proposed shelf sites. 2. The drill sites on the continental rise were in the path of numerous icebergs of various sizes that frequently forced us to pause drilling or leave the hole entirely as they approached the ship. The overall downtime caused by approaching icebergs was 50% of our time spent on site. 3. A medical evacuation cut the expedition short by 1 week. Recovery of core on the continental rise at Sites U1532 and U1533 cannot be used to indicate the extent of grounded ice on the shelf or, thus, of its retreat directly. However, the sediments contained in these cores offer a range of clues about past WAIS extent and retreat. At Sites U1532 and U1533, coarse-grained sediments interpreted to be ice-rafted debris (IRD) were identified throughout all recovered time periods. A dominant feature of the cores is recorded by lithofacies cyclicity, which is interpreted to represent relatively warmer periods variably characterized by sediments with higher microfossil abundance, greater bioturbation, and higher IRD concentrations alternating with colder periods characterized by dominantly gray laminated terrigenous muds. Initial comparison of these cycles to published late Quaternary records from the region suggests that the units interpreted to be records of warmer time intervals in the core tie to global interglacial periods and the units interpreted to be deposits of colder periods tie to global glacial periods. Cores from the two drill sites recovered sediments of dominantly terrigenous origin intercalated or mixed with pelagic or hemipelagic deposits. In particular, Site U1533, which is located near a deep-sea channel originating from the continental slope, contains graded silts, sands, and gravels transported downslope from the shelf to the rise. The channel is likely the pathway of these sediments transported by turbidity currents and other gravitational downslope processes. The association of lithologic facies at both sites predominantly reflects the interplay of downslope and contouritic sediment supply with occasional input of more pelagic sediment. Despite the lack of cores from the shelf, our records from the continental rise reveal the timing of glacial advances across the shelf and thus the existence of a continent-wide ice sheet in West Antarctica during longer time periods since at least the late Miocene. Cores from both sites contain abundant coarse-grained sediments and clasts of plutonic origin transported either by downslope processes or by ice rafting. If detailed provenance studies confirm our preliminary assessment that the origin of these samples is from the plutonic bedrock of Marie Byrd Land, their thermochronological record will potentially reveal timing and rates of denudation and erosion linked to crustal uplift. The chronostratigraphy of both sites enables the generation of a seismic sequence stratigraphy for the entire Amundsen Sea continental rise, spanning the area offshore from the Amundsen Sea Embayment westward along the Marie Byrd Land margin to the easternmost Ross Sea through a connecting network of seismic lines.« less