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Holocene ice sheet dynamics and detrital provenance shifts along the West Greenland Margin recorded by radiogenic isotopes (Sr, Nd, Pb)
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|Authors:||Madaj, Lina||Supervisor:||Kasemann, Simone Antonia||1. Expert:||Kasemann, Simone Antonia||Experts:||Chiessi, Cristiano||Abstract:||
Due to the effect of Arctic Amplification the Arctic is currently warming at least twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Seasonal sea-ice extent has been alarmingly declining in the past decade. Glaciers and ice caps along the Greenland coast and in the Canadian Arctic have been losing mass on an accelerated rate during the past century. As the global climate system is a complex system connecting different regions via atmospheric transport, changes in Arctic climate patterns are affecting the climate and weather conditions in the lower latitudes. The Greenland Ice Sheet as well as glaciers and ice caps in the Canadian Arctic are the largest freshwater storages on the northern hemisphere and expected to be among the highest contributors to global sea level rise. Freshwater input through meltwater discharge is not only affecting sea level rise but further influencing deep water formation in the Labrador Sea and the subpolar North Atlantic and hence global ocean circulation and climate patterns.
To be able to sufficiently predict future developments of the Greenland Ice Sheet with respect to mass loss and resulting impacts on the global climate, data from past climate and Greenland Ice Sheet extents are crucially important. The Holocene spanning the last period of the deglaciation after the Last Glacial Maximum culminating in the Holocene Thermal Maximum when atmospheric temperatures were warmer and glacier and ice-sheet extent smaller than today represents the closest analogue to current atmospheric warming and Greenland Ice Sheet mass loss. The wide west Greenland shelf of Baffin Bay and Labrador Sea hosts thick marine sediments archiving around ten thousand years of this past climate and ice-sheet history.
Siliciclastic detrital material discharged into Baffin Bay and the Labrador Sea via meltwater and erosion can be separated from those sedimentary archives and traced back to its source region. Radiogenic isotopes (Sr, Nd, Pb) label the source regions of those sediments by fingerprinting the isotopic composition of the prevailing bedrock. Hence, they can be used as reliable provenance tracers. Retreating land-ice masses expose bedrock that before was not subject to erosion, influencing the isotopic signatures delivered into the surrounding ocean. Based on this theory, radiogenic isotopes can record changes in siliciclastic detrital sediment provenance and hence, indirectly trace ice-sheet dynamics.
The overall aim of this thesis work is to reconstruct changes in detrital sediment provenance along the west Greenland shelf to gain new insights into Holocene Greenland Ice Sheet dynamics and ocean current-induced sediment transport. Sedimentary archives from three main research areas (eastern Labrador Sea, northeastern Baffin Bay, and Kane Basin, central Nares Strait) record obvious shifts in sediment provenance throughout the Holocene. Those shifts coincide with major regional climatic changes in the research area. Generally, all records reveal the local bedrock as the main source region of detrital material and distal-sourced material transported along the coast via the West Greenland Current as a secondary source. Although the proportion of distal sourced material appears to be small, changes in West Greenland Current strength have been recorded in the isotopic composition.
In southwestern Greenland and the Labrador Sea radiogenic isotope records reveal a shift towards a higher proportion of the local Archean Block in the late Holocene caused by Neoglacial ice advance and a reduction in West Greenland Current speed delivering less material from southern most Greenland. Farther north in the Upernavik region, midwest Greenland coast, the isotopic composition marks a change with the transition from early to mid Holocene caused by increased West Greenland Current strength and the opening of Vaigat Strait which enabled erosion and transport of freshly exposed basalts from the Disko Bay area due to ice-sheet retreat. This basalt input is, however, not transported all the way to northernmost Melville Bay (northern Baffin Bay) where the detrital sediment composition is clearly dominated by contribution of the local Committee-Melville Belt without any significant provenance changes throughout the Holocene. Farthest north, the sedimentary record from Kane Basin records provenance shifts that confirm the opening of Nares Strait around 8.3 ka BP. This event is followed by an increased delivery of carbonate-rich detrital sediments from northern Ellesmere Island due to the newly established gateway of Arctic Ocean water transporting sediments from further north to the core location.
Additionally determined mineralogical composition of the sedimentary records along the west Greenland coast supports the interpretation drawn from the radiogenic isotopic composition. Furthermore, it points out the additional value of radiogenic isotopes through variations only visible in isotopic composition but not in the mineralogical composition. Further comparison to other studies from the region based on different tracers confirms the reliability and sufficient application of radiogenic isotopes in provenance studies as well as the advantage of multi-proxy approaches in paleoclimatological studies.
Overall, this study highlights the advantages and reliability of radiogenic isotopes in provenance studies with regards to reconstructions of ice-sheet dynamics. The combination of the three isotopic systems (Sr, Nd, Pb) enables source region determination with a higher probability compensating for overlapping signatures within individual isotopic systems. The transect of sedimentary records along the west Greenland coast identifies clearly distinguishable isotopic ranges for the different Greenland bedrock terrains, qualifying this approach for further high-resolution investigation in past Greenland Ice Sheet development.
|Keywords:||Greenland Ice Sheet; Ice-Sheet Dynamics; Holocene; Provenance; Radiogenic Isotopes||Issue Date:||24-Sep-2021||Type:||Dissertation||DOI:||10.26092/elib/1186||URN:||urn:nbn:de:gbv:46-elib54533||Institution:||Universität Bremen||Faculty:||Fachbereich 05: Geowissenschaften (FB 05)|
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checked on Jan 28, 2023
checked on Jan 28, 2023
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