The evolution of the subglacial landscape of Antarctica

Stewart S. R. Jamieson, David Sugden, Nicholas R. J. Hulton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The aim is to investigate the evolution of the subglacial landscape of Antarctica using an ice sheet and erosion model. We identify different stages of continental glaciation and model the erosion processes associated with each stage. The model links erosion to the basal thermal regime and indicates that much of the Antarctic interior may have been subject to less than 200 m of erosion. The depth of erosion reflects the presence or absence of warm-based ice and the consistency of ice flow direction. This information, linked with knowledge about landscapes of glaciation in the northern hemisphere and some simple but robust assumptions about initial topography, is used to generate a map of the subglacial Antarctic landscape in which much of the lowland interior resembles the landscapes of areal scouring typical of the Laurentian and Scandinavian shields. Near the continental margins selective linear erosion has overdeepened pre-existing river valleys by as much as 2.8 km. High elevation plateaus adjacent to such drainage systems have survived largely unmodified under cold-based ice. High erosion rates result from steep thermal gradients in basal ice. Mountain regions such as the Gamburtsev Mountains, uplands in Dronning Maud Land and massifs in West Antarctica are likely to bear features of local alpine glaciation. Such landscapes may have been protected under cold-based ice for the last 34 Myrs or possibly longer. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume293
Issue number1-2
Early online date15 Mar 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2010

Keywords

  • landscape evolution
  • erosion
  • ice sheet
  • topography
  • Antarctica
  • model
  • ATMOSPHERIC CARBON-DIOXIDE
  • ICE-SHEET DYNAMICS
  • SOUTHERN VICTORIA LAND
  • DRONNING-MAUD LAND
  • MARIE-BYRD-LAND
  • EAST-ANTARCTICA
  • TRANSANTARCTIC MOUNTAINS
  • GLACIAL EROSION
  • CAIRNGORM MOUNTAINS
  • EXPOSURE AGES

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