Late Oligocene and early Miocene glacimarine sedimentation in the SW Ross Sea, Antarctica: the record from offshore drilling

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-128
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2011
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Recent offshore drilling in the SW Ross Sea has recovered three cores with a cumulative thickness of 1500 in of Oligocene-early Miocene strata. Together with data from earlier drilling, notably from the CIROS-1 drillhole 70 kin to the south (702 in of core), the cores record shallow marine glacigenic sedimentation at the margin of a rift basin bordering a mountain range that was breached by outlet glaciers from an ice sheet. This paper focuses on the late Oligocene-early Miocene record, which preserves sedimentary facies that represent warmer glacier ice and climatic conditions than are evident in the Antarctic today. Strata were cored near the South Victoria Land coast, and sedimentary facies include diamictite, conglomerate, breccia, sandstone, siltstone, mudstone and rhythmite. Facies associations, combined with seismic stratigraphic data, indicate an alternating proximal and distal marine record of glacigenic sedimentation, including phases of glacier grounding and variable degrees of iceberg rafting. Reworking by gravity-flow processes and near-shore submarine currents is also evident. These facies, together with evidence for periglacial vegetation, provide evidence of a late Oligocene-early Miocene climatic regime resembling that in the high-Arctic today. Thus, the climate was transitional between cool-temperate conditions of early Oligocene and cold-polar conditions of Quaternary time.