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Petrological investigations of the sand fraction and of granule- to cobble-sized clasts in the Plio-Pleistocene sedimentary cycles of the AND-1B drill core at the NW edge of the Ross Ice Shelf (McMurdo Sound) highlight significant down-core modal and compositional variations. These variations provide: (i) direct information about potential source regions during both glacial maxima and minima; and (ii) evidence of an evolving provenance, documented by long-term shifts in compositional patterns that can be interpreted as reflecting variations in ice volume and ice sheet thermal regimes and changes in paleogeography related to the emergence of several volcanic centers during the deposition of the drill core over the past ca. 3.5 Ma.
The most significant change in diamictite provenance (identified at 82.7 meters below the sea floor, mbsf), coincides with a change in sedimentary cycle architecture from sequences that are dominated by diamictites (Mid-Late Pleistocene, above 82.7 mbsf) to sequences characterized by cycles of diamictite (subglacial) and diatomite (open-marine) deposition (Pliocene, below 82.7 mbsf). In the Mid-Late Pleistocene glacial/interglacial cycles diamictites show high amounts of Skelton–Mulock sourced clasts, supplied from both basement and overlying Beacon and Ferrar supergroups, and they also include a variable contribution from reworking of glacial sediments that were deposited during earlier glacial activity.
In the Pliocene to early Pleistocene diatomite–diamictite cycles basement clast compositions indicate the same provenance (Mulock–Skelton) but the main debris load was picked up from volcanic centers in the McMurdo Sound area. Similarly, associated glacial minima sediments (i.e., diatomite intervals) are dominated by volcanic clasts suggesting calving of glaciers from Ross Island or the Koettlitz Glacier region during interglacials.
In agreement with previous glaciological reconstructions and numerical ice sheet models, the provenance of glacially transported material is firmly identified in the region between Ross Island and the Skelton–Mulock glacier area (South Victoria Land). The reconstructed ice directions and ice dynamic model are comparable to the configurations proposed for the grounded ice expansion within the McMurdo Sound during the Last Glacial Maximum, and they are also consistent with ice-flow patterns previously reconstructed for Pliocene and Pleistocene glacial settings in the region.
Supplemental material (MIS CORE - MODAL VARIATIONS IN CLAST LITHOLOGIES) is included in the document and also attached (below) as a spreadsheet file.