Abstract

There is growing consensus that development of a semipermanent ice sheet on Antarctica began at or near the Eocene-Oligocene (E-O) boundary. Beyond ice-rafted debris in oceanic settings, however, direct evidence for a substantial ice sheet at this time has been limited and thus far restricted to East Antarctica. It is unclear where glacier ice first accumulated and how extensive it was on the Antarctic continent in the earliest Oligocene. Sediments at the top of the Eocene marine shelf section on Seymour Island, Antarctic Peninsula, include glacial marine deposits and a lodgment till with clasts derived from a variety of rock units on the peninsula. Dinoflagellate biostratigraphy and strontium isotope stratigraphy indicate an age at or very close to the E-O boundary. Glacier ice extending to sea level in the northern peninsula at this time suggests the presence of a regionally extensive West Antarctica ice sheet, and thus an even more dramatic response to the forcing factors that facilitated high-latitude ice expansion in the earliest Oligocene.

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