Date of Award

5-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Geology

First Advisor

Ishman, Scott

Abstract

The temperature record from the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) shows a warming trend 3°C greater than that of the Antarctic continent (Vaughan, et al., 2003). The LARsen Ice Shelf System, Antarctica (LARISSA) project was developed as an interdisciplinary collaboration to understand the impacts of global climate change on the ice shelf systems of the Peninsula. The 2010 LARISSA cruise to the western AP margin collected the two marine sediment cores from the mouth of Barilari Bay used for this thesis, Jumbo Piston Core (JPC) 127 and Jumbo Kasten Core (JKC) 55. The 77 sediment samples collected at 10 cm intervals were sieved at 63 microns to retain foraminiferal tests, identified to the species level. The 35 most abundant foraminifera species were grouped into five assemblages with one outlier species through Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA), predominantly grouped by calcareous and agglutinated foraminifera. The Principal Component Analysis (PCA) yielded two principal components, which accounted for 81.5% of the variability within the data, correlated to the species Fursenkoina spp. and Bulimina aculeata. The base of this core was found to be nearly 8000 calibrated years before present (cal. yr. BP) through radiocarbon dating of the foraminiferal tests. The PCA results were correlated with the magnetic susceptibility down core, producing a timeline of four distinct zones in the mid- to late Holocene at the outer Barilari Bay core site. The earliest zone indicated stable cold bay waters, followed by a drastic change with the incursion of warmer Circumpolar Deep Water (CDW) onto the continental shelf. The third zone of this study illustrated a period of fluctuation between the cold bay waters and the CDW, interrupted by the Little Ice Age when the ice shelf in Barilari Bay extended to the mouth of the bay. The most recent zone depicts the past 200 years of melting ice shelves and the resulting increase in primary productivity observed in the bays of the western AP, discernable from the diatom, foraminifera, and sedimentological record. This description of the benthic foraminiferal record in outer Barilari Bay increases the understanding of the timing of events in the mid- to late Holocene and will serve as a correlation to other paleoclimate proxies from the LARISSA project.

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