Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Terra Antartica. Copyright 2001, 8(3), 207-216 Terra Antartica, Universite di Siena.


Cape Roberts Project drill core 3 (CRP-3) was obtained from Roberts ridge, a sea-floor high located at 77oS, 12 km offshore from Cape Roberts in western McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The recovered core is about 939 m long and comprises strata dated as being early Oligocene (possibly latest Eocene) in age, resting unconformably on ~116 m of basement rocks consisting of Palaeozoic Beacon Supergroup sediments. The core includes ten facies commonly occurring in five major associations that are repeated in particular sequences throughout the core and which are interpreted as representing different depositional environments through time. Depositional systems inferred to be represented in the succession include: outer shelf, inner shelf, nearshore to shoreface each under iceberg influence, deltaic and/or grounding-line fan, and ice proximal-ice marginal-subglacial (mass flow/rainout diamictite/subglacial till) singly or in combination. The record is taken to represent the initial talus/alluvial fan setting of a glaciated rift margin adjacent to the block-uplifted Transantarctic Mountains. Development of a deltaic succession upcore was probably associated with the formation of palaeo-Mackay valley with temperate glaciers in its headwaters. At that stage glaciation was intense enough to support glaciers ending in the sea elsewhere along the coast, but a local glacier was fluctuating down to the sea by the time the youngest part of CRP-3 was being deposited. Changes in alaeoenvironmental interpretations in this youngest part of the core are used to estimate relative glacial proximity to the drillsite through time. These inferred glacial fluctuations are compared with the global δ18O and Mg/Ca curves to evaluate the potential of glacial fluctuations on Antarctica for influencing these records of global change. Although the comparisons are tentative at present, the records do have similarities, but there are also some differences that require further evaluation.