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  1. Marine sediments, obtained from cores and captures from deep sea and continental shelf sites of West Antarctica, contain rich records of latest Miocene to Present glacial and deglacial processes and conditions at the margin of the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS). The materials we are investigating were recovered from a) Resolution Drift on the Amundsen Sea continental rise (water depths >3900m), b)the continental shelf in the Amundsen Sea, Wrigley Gulf, and Sultzberger Bay (water depths <1000m). Resolution Drift cores were drilled by IODP Expedition 379 (Gohl et al., doi:10.14379/iodp.proc.379.2021) in sediments dominated by compacted clay and silty clay, with conglomeratic intervals of ice-rafted detritus (IRD) and downslope deposits. The shelf sediments were recovered by piston core, trigger core, and Smith McIntyre Grab (SMG) during USA research cruises of the RVIB Nathaniel B Palmer (1999, 2000, 2007) and USCGC Glacier (1983). The shelf samples are non-compacted clay, containing abundant cobbles, pebbles and biogenic fragments. Our research focuses upon rock clasts, detrital apatite and zircon, felsic volcanic tephra, and micro-manganese nodules separated from marine and glaciomarine clay. The rock clasts and detrital minerals represent samples of continental crust that we characterise according to rock type, petrology, geochemistry, and geo-thermochronology [U-Pb, (U-Th)/He, and fission track methods]. These characteristics illuminate solid Earth processes, including the development of subglacial topography . We compared clasts’ petrology and age data to the exposed onshore geology and thermochronology of bedrock, and determined that ≥90% of clasts likely originated in West Antarctica. Therefore the materials can be used to assign roughness, erodibility, and heat production factors for subglacial bedrock, which constitute boundary conditions used by ice sheet modelers. Rhyolite ash and fragments provide new evidence for explosive eruptions (dated ca. 2.55 to 2.92 Ma; feldspar 40Ar/39Ar) delivered to sea as airfall, IRD, and possible subglacial water transport. Silicic eruptions produce ash and aerosols that may screen solar energy, and provide bio-available nutrients that produce phytoplankton blooms leading to sequestration of carbon. The rhyolite dates coincide with the end of a Pliocene warm period recorded in IODP379 cores (Gille-Petzoldt et al., 10.3389/feart.2022.976703). Our work in progress seeks to obtain higher resolution geochronology in order to determine whether silicic continental volcanism occurred in response to ice unloading due to deglaciation (cf. Lin et al., 10.5194/cp-18-485-2022) and whether erupted products contributed to latest Pliocene significant cooling and WAIS re-glaciation. Another distinctive sediment constituent is micro-manganese nodules of unusual form. Whereas typical micro-MN nodules are dark, formed of concentric layers, this form is pale in color, ‘barbell’ shaped, and transparent in transmitted light. Scanning electron microscopy shows these to be microcrystalline Mn-oxide with embedded grains of quartz and feldspar, which likely served as seed material. Mn-oxides form by authigenesis at/near the seafloor surface, requiring high oxygen concentrations in the bottom water and low sedimentation rates, generally associated with the end of glacials/during interglacials (Hillenbrand et al. 2021, 10.1029/2021GL093103). Work is in progress to determine whether Mn oxides formed through passive accretion upon seed grains or microbially-mediated precipitation from Mn-oxyhydroxides or colloids, of possible relevance for coastal carbon budgets. 
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  2. Craddock, J.P. ; Malone, D.H. ; Foreman, B.Z. ; and Konstantinou, A. (Ed.)
    The Bighorn uplift, Wyoming, developed in the Rocky Mountain foreland during the 75–55 Ma Laramide orogeny. It is one of many crystalline-cored uplifts that resulted from low-amplitude, large-wavelength folding of Phanerozoic strata and the basement nonconformity (Great Unconformity) across Wyoming and eastward into the High Plains region, where arch-like structures exist in the subsurface. Results of broadband and passive-active seismic studies by the Bighorn EarthScope project illuminated the deeper crustal structure. The seismic data show that there is substantial Moho relief beneath the surface exposure of the basement arch, with a greater Moho depth west of the Bighorn uplift and shallower Moho depth east of the uplift. A comparable amount of Moho relief is observed for the Wind River uplift, west of the Bighorn range, from a Consortium for Continental Reflection Profiling (COCORP) profile and teleseismic receiver function analysis of EarthScope Transportable Array seismic data. The amplitude and spacing of crystalline-cored uplifts, together with geological and geophysical data, are here examined within the framework of a lithospheric folding model. Lithospheric folding is the concept of low-amplitude, large-wavelength (150–600 km) folds affecting the entire lithosphere; these folds develop in response to an end load that induces a buckling instability. The buckling instability focuses initial fold development, with faults developing subsequently as shortening progresses. Scaled physical models and numerical models that undergo layer-parallel shortening induced by end loads determine that the wavelength of major uplifts in the upper crust occurs at approximately one third the wavelength of folds in the upper mantle for strong lithospheres. This distinction arises because surface uplifts occur where there is distinct curvature upon the Moho, and the vergence of surface uplifts can be synthetic or antithetic to the Moho curvature. In the case of the Bighorn uplift, the surface uplift is antithetic to the Moho curvature, which is likely a consequence of structural inheritance and the influence of a preexisting Proterozoic suture upon the surface uplift. The lithospheric folding model accommodates most of the geological observations and geophysical data for the Bighorn uplift. An alternative model, involving a crustal detachment at the orogen scale, is inconsistent with the absence of subhorizontal seismic reflectors that would arise from a throughgoing, low-angle detachment fault and other regional constraints. We conclude that the Bighorn uplift—and possibly other Laramide arch-like structures—is best understood as a product of lithospheric folding associated with a horizontal end load imposed upon the continental margin to the west. 
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  3. West Antarctica hosts an unusually high geothermal gradient supported by hot, low-viscosity mantle which likely enhanced the lithospheric response to West Antarctic Ice Sheet [WAIS] cycles of growth and increased the sensitivity of thermochronometers to landscape evolution. Thus a valuable record of glacial landscape change might be recovered from apatite fission track [AFT 80-130°C range] and (U-Th)/He [AHe; 50-90°C]dating, provided that landscape evolution can be distinguished from tectonic signals, including the effects of faults. This study utilizes AFT-AHe thermochronology and thermo-kinematic Pecube modeling to investigate interactions between the hot geotherm, glacial erosion, and inferred crustal structures in the Ford Ranges and the DeVicq Glacier trough in Marie Byrd Land (MBL). The Ford Ranges host glacial troughs (up to 3km relief) dissecting a low-relief erosional surface. Previous work suggests a majority of bedrock exhumation and cooling occurred at/by 80 Ma. However, new data hint at renewed exhumation linked to glacial incision since WAIS formation at 34 or 20 Ma. Prior (U-Th)/He zircon dates from exposures of crystalline bedrock span 90 – 67 Ma. New AHe bedrock dates are 41 to 26 Ma, while two glacial erratics (presumed to be eroded from walls or floor of glacial troughs) yielded AHe dates of 37 Ma and 16 Ma. The DeVicq Glacier trough (>3.5km relief) likely coincides with a regional fault but lacks temperature-time information compared to other regions. The structure may have accommodated motion between elevated central MBL and the subdued crust of the Ford Ranges. We are acquiring AHe and AFT for onshore and offshore samples to compare uplift and exhumation rates for bedrock flanking DeVicq trough. Our new Pecube models test a series of thermal, tectonic, and landscape evolution scenarios against a suite of thermochronologic data, allowing us to assess the timing of glacial incision and WAIS initiation in the FordRanges, and to seek evidence of an inferred tectonic boundary at DeVicq Trough. Modeling efforts will be aided by new AHe analyses from ongoing work. These models combine topographic, tectonic, thermal, and key thermochronologic datasets to produce new insight into the unique cryosphere-lithosphere interactions affecting landscape change in West Antarctica. 
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  4. IODP Expedition 379 deep-sea drilling in 2019 (Gohl et al. 2021, doi:10.14379/iodp.proc.379.2021), offered an opportunity to obtain chronostratigraphic control for seismic reflection data for Amundsen Sea shelf and slope deposits that record Miocene to Present fluctuations in volume of the West Antarctic ice sheet. Here we report the age and interpret the provenance of a volcanic ash bed recovered at/near the Plio-Pleistocene boundary at 31.51 meters below sea level in Hole U1533B and 33.94 mbsf in Hole U1533D. With distinctive geochemistry and inferred wide regional distribution, the bed may serve as a reliable age marker. In Hole 1533B, the fresh tephra forms a discrete layer interstratified within uniform brown marine mud. The layer has a sharp base and upper boundary that is gradational over 5 cm into overlying mud. Color reflectance and density data aided identification of the tephra horizon (diffuse) in Hole 1533D, ~1000m away. A possible on-land source for ash is the Miocene to Pleistocene Marie Byrd Land volcanic province, comprising 18 large alkaline volcanoes dominated by effusive lavas. Products of pyroclastic eruptions are uncommon, mainly occurring as distal englacial, and probably marine, tephra. We undertook an offshore-onshore comparison by first characterizing samples of Site U1533 tephra from a petrographic and geochemical standpoint, using thin section observations, EMPA-WDS glass compositions, and 40Ar/39Ar dating. We then identified onshore exposures with similar characteristics. The offshore tephra are composed of coarse (50-300µm) cuspate glass shards with elongated vesicles. The glass composition is rhyolite, with 75-79wt.% SiO2, ~4wt.% FeO and 0.0wt.% MgO. Single-crystal feldspar 40Ar/39Ar dates are 2.55±0.12 and 2.92±0.02 Ma for U1533B and 2.87 ±0.45 Ma for U1533D. The geochemistry, shard morphology, discrete bed expression, and lateral continuity between Holes U1533B-U1533D indicate that the rhyolite tephra formed as airfall settled to the deep seabed. The ca. 2.55 Ma age based on youngest feldspar grains differs slightly from the 2.1 to 2.2 Ma result obtained from in-progress core bio-magnetostratigraphy. Rare exposures of rhyolite are found in the Chang Peak/Mt. Waesche centers, 1080 km from Site U1533. We obtained pumice sample MB.7.3 (prior-published age of 1.6±0.2 Ma), which displays elevated FeO and F content, and MB.8.1, a specimen of porphyritic cryptocrystalline lava. Single-crystal sanidine 40Ar/39Ar dates are 1.315±0.007 Ma (MB.7.3) and 1.385±0.003 Ma (MB.8.1). Site U1533 samples share a geochemical affinity with these on-land rhyolites, expressed as similar SiO2, CaO, TiO2, MgO and FeO content, suggesting an origin for Site U1533 tephra in the Chang-Waesche volcanoes. A possible explanation for the distinctly greater age, and observed contrasts in Al2O3, Na2O and F percentages, is that Site U1533 tephra are older and erupted from a source entirely concealed beneath subsequent eruptions and the ice sheet. Our results suggest that rhyolite volcanism initiated earlier, was of longer duration than previously known (2.92 to 1.315 Ma), and dispersed tephra far offshore. The finding is significant because ash and aerosols produced by large eruptions may influence regional climate. Antarctica cooled significantly and ice sheets expanded in latest Pliocene time (McKay et al. 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1112248109). 
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  5. The Great Unconformity marks a major gap in the continental geological record, separating Precambrian basement from Phanerozoic sedimentary rocks. However, the timing, magnitude, spatial heterogeneity, and causes of the erosional event(s) and/or depositional hiatus that lead to its development are unknown. We present field relationships from the 1.07-Ga Pikes Peak batholith in Colorado that constrain the position of Cryogenian and Cambrian paleosurfaces below the Great Unconformity. Tavakaiv sandstone injectites with an age of ≥676 ± 26 Ma cut Pikes Peak granite. Injection of quartzose sediment in bulbous bodies indicates near-surface conditions during emplacement. Fractured, weathered wall rock around Tavakaiv bodies and intensely altered basement fragments within unweathered injectites imply still earlier regolith development. These observations provide evidence that the granite was exhumed and resided at the surface prior to sand injection, likely before the 717-Ma Sturtian glaciation for the climate appropriate for regolith formation over an extensive region of the paleolandscape. The 510-Ma Sawatch sandstone directly overlies Tavakaiv-injected Pikes granite and drapes over core stones in Pikes regolith, consistent with limited erosion between 717 and 510 Ma. Zircon (U-Th)/He dates for basement below the Great Unconformity are 975 to 46 Ma and are consistent with exhumation by 717 Ma. Our results provide evidence that most erosion below the Great Unconformity in Colorado occurred before the first Neoproterozoic Snowball Earth and therefore cannot be a product of glacial erosion. We propose that multiple Great Unconformities developed diachronously and represent regional tectonic features rather than a synchronous global phenomenon.

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  6. Abstract

    Basal melting of ice shelves is a major source of mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet. In situ measurements of ice shelf basal melt rates are sparse, while the more extensive estimates from satellite altimetry require precise information about firn density and characteristics of near‐surface layers. We describe a novel method for estimating multidecadal basal melt rates using airborne ice penetrating radar data acquired during a 3‐year survey of the Ross Ice Shelf. These data revealed an ice column with distinct upper and lower units whose thicknesses change as ice flows from the grounding line toward the ice front. We interpret the lower unit as continental meteoric ice that has flowed across the grounding line and the upper unit as ice formed from snowfall onto the relatively flat ice shelf. We used the ice thickness difference and strain‐induced thickness change of the lower unit between the survey lines, combined with ice velocities, to derive basal melt rates averaged over one to six decades. Our results are similar to satellite laser altimetry estimates for the period 2003–2009, suggesting that the Ross Ice Shelf melt rates have been fairly stable for several decades. We identify five sites of elevated basal melt rates, in the range 0.5–2 m a−1, near the ice shelf front. These hot spots indicate pathways into the sub‐ice‐shelf ocean cavity for warm seawater, likely a combination of summer‐warmed Antarctic Surface Water and modified Circumpolar Deep Water, and are potential areas of ice shelf weakening if the ocean warms.

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