Abstract:

Grain shape is useful as a depositional, environmental, diagenetic, and provenance proxy. Here we conduct the first study of down-core grain-shape variation in Antarctica. This study further examines the utility of grain shape as a depositional proxy, namely of glacial influence, in the James Ross Basin and Joinville Plateau of the Antarctic Peninsula from the Eocene to the present. Fourier grain-shape analysis was used to quantify the grain shape of 31 samples spanning the glacial history of the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet. A total of 6,442 quartz grain peripheries were digitized and described through the twenty-first Fourier harmonic. Sediment provenance has a greater influence on grain roughness than glacial activity in the study area. However, provided a similar sedimentary source, secondary changes in roughness correlate with changes in the extent of the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet since the late Oligocene. Grain roughness increased with increased glacial influence during the middle Miocene, after an early Pliocene warm period, and just above a Pliocene regional glacial unconformity. Conversely, grain roughness decreased with less glacial influence during the late Oligocene and during an early Pliocene warm period. This study further illustrates the usefulness of grain shape in distinguishing sediment provenance and environmental conditions in Antarctic settings.

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