Abstract

We document the age and extent of late Quaternary glaciofluvial processes in Garwood Valley, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, using mapping, stratigraphy, geochronology, and geochemical analysis of sedimentary and ice deposits. Geomorphic and stratigraphic evidence indicates damming of the valley at its Ross Sea outlet by the expanded Ross Sea ice sheet during the Last Glacial Maximum. Damming resulted in development of a proglacial lake in Garwood Valley that persisted from late Pleistocene to mid-Holocene time, and in the formation of a multilevel delta complex that overlies intact, supraglacial till and buried glacier ice detached from the Ross Sea ice sheet. Radiocarbon dating of delta deposits and inferred relationships between paleolake level and Ross Sea ice sheet grounding line positions indicate that the Ross Sea ice sheet advanced north of Garwood Valley at ca. 21.5 ka and retreated south of the valley between 7.3 and 5.5 ka. Buried ice remaining in Garwood Valley has a similar geochemical fingerprint to grounded Ross Sea ice sheet material elsewhere in the southern Dry Valleys. The sedimentary sequence in Garwood Valley preserves evidence of glaciofluvial interactions and climate-driven hydrological activity from the end of the Pleistocene through the mid-Holocene, making it an unusually complete record of climate activity and paleoenvironmental conditions from the terrestrial Antarctic.

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