Local controls on sediment accumulation and distribution in a fjord in the West Antarctic Peninsula: implications for palaeoenvironmental interpretations
We analyse surface sediment and its distribution in Flandres Bay, West Antarctic Peninsula, in order to understand modern day sediment dispersal patterns in a fjord with retreating, tidewater glaciers. The surface sediment descriptions of 41 cores are included in this study. The sediment facies described include muddy diatomaceous ooze, diatomaceous mud, pebbly mud, sandy mud and mud, with scattered pebbles present in most samples. In contrast to a traditional conceptual model of glacial sediment distribution in fjords, grain size in Flandres Bay generally coarsens from the inner to outer bay. The smallest grain size sediments were found in the bay head and are interpreted as fine-grained deposits resulting from meltwater plumes and sediment gravity flows occurring close to the glacier front. The middle of the bay is characterized by a high silt percentage, which correlates to diatom-rich sediments. Sediments in the outer bay have a high component of coarse material, which is interpreted as being the result of winnowing from currents moving from the Bellingshausen Sea into the Gerlache Strait. Palaeoenvironmental reconstructions of glacial environments often use grain size as an indicator of proximity to the ice margin. After a detailed analysis of a large number of cores collected in the study area, our findings highlight the variability in sedimentation patterns within a fjord and provide a valuable evidence of the complexity that may occur in the sedimentary record.
Keywords: Flandres Bay; Antarctic Peninsula; sediment distribution; grain size.
(Published: 12 August 2016)
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Citation: Polar Research 2016, 35, 25284, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v35.25284
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to the Norwegian Polar Institute.