Provenance, transport and diagenesis of sediment in polar areas: a case study in Profound Lake, King George Island, Antarctica

  • Ana C. Hernández Centro de Oceanología y Estudios Antárticos, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas
  • Joaquin Bastias Department of Earth Sciences, University of Geneva
  • Daniela Matus Escuela de Ciencias de la Tierra, Universidad Andrés Bello
  • William C. Mahaney Quaternary Surveys
Keywords: lake sediment, micro-texture characteristics, hydrothermal alteration, quartz grain micromorphology, environmental interpretation


Detailed scanning electron microscopy (SEM) micro-texture and mineralogical analysis of lacustrine sediment recovered from Profound Lake (also known as Uruguay Lake), Antarctica, was conducted in the foreland area of the Collins Glacier, King George Island. Very coarse and coarse sand grade size fractions (2 mm – 600 μm) were examined with SEM/ energy dispersive spectrometry, while the total sand fraction and fines (silt + clay) were examined using x-ray diffraction to determine relationships to source rock, weathering and transport history and long-term clay mineral weathering, all of which are poorly understood in polar areas. The mineralogy of these sediments was compared with petrographical information of the country rock to identify potential detrital sources. The association of recovered detrital minerals, sometimes strongly pre-weathered, supports release from source rock of basaltic and andesitic compositions. The micro-texture analysis of quartz, magnetite and various plagioclase grains show micro-features that reveal a complex weathering–diagenesis history tentatively extending into the Paleogene. The bedrock was eroded mostly by glacial processes and mechanical action presumed to result from glacial crushing. Alteration minerals, likely the product of pre-weathering, are probably sourced from weathered bedrock during contact with the sub-aerial atmosphere prior to entrainment. However, amorphous silica precipitation indicates weathering subsequent to glacial erosion from the source bedrock. Cracks of variable dimensions are mostly characteristic of either frost weathering or glacial transport, and involve mechanical and chemical processes.


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How to Cite
Hernández, A. C., Bastias, J., Matus, D., & Mahaney, W. C. (2018). Provenance, transport and diagenesis of sediment in polar areas: a case study in Profound Lake, King George Island, Antarctica. Polar Research, 37. Retrieved from
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