Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (1997) 135: 109-121. Copyright 1997, Elsevier Science. ISSN: 0031-0182. Used by permission.


Shipboard analysis of the 1,183-m sedimentary section recovered at Site 918 in the Irminger Basin during Ocean Drilling Program Leg 152 revealed material of glacial origin (diamictons, ice-rafted debris (IRD) and dropstones) as deep as 543 m below sea floor (bsf). The sediment containing the deepest dropstone was biostratigraphically dated shipboard as approximately 7 Ma, pushing back the date for the onset of glaciation on southern Greenland by 5 Ma. Thin layers of fine sand were found as much as 60 m deeper in the core, raising the possibility of an even earlier date for glaciation. To determine the sedimentary history of these deeper sand layers, the surface textures on quartz grains from eleven cores bracketing the interval of interest were analyzed by scanning electron microscope. The results suggest that the grains in the 60-m interval below the deepest dropstone have a glacial history. At that level, an 11-Ma Sr-isotope date was obtained from planktonic foraminifers. This late Miocene timing is supported biostratigraphically by both nanofossil and foraminifer assemblages, indicating a new minimum age for the onset of glaciation on southern Greenland and in the North Atlantic.