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Title: Iceberg-keel ploughmarks on the seafloor of Antarctic continental shelves and the North Falkland Basin : implications for palaeo-glaciology
Author: Wise, Matthew Geoffrey
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 1195
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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The use of iceberg-keel ploughmarks as proxy indicators of past and present iceberg morphology, keel depth and drift direction has seldom been approached in the southern hemisphere. Using high-resolution multi-beam swath bathymetry of the mid-shelf Pine Island Trough and outermost Weddell Sea shelf regions of Antarctica, detailed analysis of >13,000 iceberg-keel ploughmarks was undertaken. By considering the draft of icebergs calved from Antarctica today, calculated from detailed satellite altimetric datasets by this work, almost all observed ploughmarks were interpreted to be relict features. In Pine Island Trough, ploughmark planform parameters and cross-sections imply calving of a large number of non-tabular icebergs with v-shaped keels from the palaeo-Pine Island-Thwaites ice stream. Geological evidence of ploughmark form and modern water depth distribution indicates calving-margin thicknesses (949 m) and subaerial ice cliff elevations (102 m) equivalent to the theoretical threshold predicted to trigger ice-cliff structural collapse and calving by marine ice-cliff instability (MICI) processes. Thus, ploughmarks provide the first observational evidence of rapid retreat of the palaeo-Pine Island-Thwaites ice stream, driven by MICI processes commencing ~12.3 cal ka BP. On the Weddell Sea shelf, ploughmark morphologies imply considerable variation in palaeo-iceberg shape and size, most likely reflecting calving from multiple source margins. In turn, an absence of grounded ice on the Weddell Sea shelf and a palaeo-oceanographic regime comparable to today are implied at the time of formation. Analysis of a 3D seismic cube of the Sea Lion Field area of the North Falkland Basin reveals iceberg-keel ploughmarks incised into the modern- and palaeo-seafloor, formed by icebergs of varying shape and size that most-likely calved from the Antarctic Ice Sheet during three past glacial periods (estimated ages ~18 - 26.5 ka BP, ~246 ka BP, ~9.8 Ma BP). Despite illustrating the possibility of iceberg drift into the North Falkland Basin today, the relict ploughmark age implies little risk to any seafloor structures in the area, which might be required for hydrocarbon production. By these analyses, the significance of iceberg-keel ploughmarks as indicators of palaeo-glaciology and palaeo-oceanography at the time of formation is emphasised.
Supervisor: Dowdeswell, Julian ; Larter, Robert Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: iceberg ; bathymetry ; marine geophysics ; Antarctica ; Pine Island Bay ; Weddell Sea ; Last Glacial Maximum ; Glaciology ; Oceanography ; multi-beam swath bathymetry ; North Falkland Basin ; Marine Ice-Cliff Instability ; ploughmarks