Short Name:
NSF-ANT05-38580

Antarctica's Geological History Reflected in Sedimentary Radiogenic Isotopes

This project studies sediment from the ocean floor to understand Antarctica's geologic history. Glacially eroded from the Antarctic continent, these sediments may offer insight into the 99% Antarctica covered by ice. The work's central focus is determining crust formation ages and thermal histories for three key areas of East Antarctica--Prydz Bay, eastern Weddell Sea, and Wilkes Land--through a combination of petrography, bulk sediment geochemistry and radiogenic isotopes, as well as isotope chronology of individual mineral grains. One specific objective is characterizing the composition of the Gamburtsev Mountains through studies of Eocene fluvial sediments from Prydz Bay. In addition to furthering our understanding of the hidden terrains of Antarctica, these terrigenous sediments will also serve as a natural laboratory to evaluate the effects of continental weathering on the Hf/Nd isotope systematics of seawater. An important broader impact of the project is providing exciting research projects for graduate and postdoctoral students using state of the art techniques in geochemistry.

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