Abstract

The catastrophic break-ups of the floating Larsen A and B ice shelves (Antarctica) in 1995 and 2002 and associated acceleration of glaciers that flowed into these ice shelves were among the most dramatic glaciological events observed in historical time. This raises a question about the larger West Antarctic ice shelves. Do these shelves, with their much greater glacial discharge, have a history of collapse? Here we describe features from the seafloor in Pine Island Bay, West Antarctica, which we interpret as having been formed during a massive ice shelf break-up and associated grounding line retreat. This evidence exists in the form of seafloor landforms that we argue were produced daily as a consequence of tidally influenced motion of mega-icebergs maintained upright in an iceberg armada produced from the disintegrating ice shelf and retreating grounding line. The break-up occurred prior to ca. 12 ka and was likely a response to rapid sea-level rise or ocean warming at that time.

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