Geological Society of London
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Iceberg-rafted tephra as a potential tool for the reconstruction of ice-sheet processes and ocean surface circulation in the glacial North Atlantic

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-06-21, 11:34 authored by Marion Kuhs, William E. N. Austin, Peter M. Abbott, David A. Hodell

Ice-rafted tephra deposits, of Marine Isotope Stage 6 (MIS 6) age, from Site U 1304 on the Gardar Drift, North Atlantic were examined for their shard size distribution and major element composition. The heterogeneous composition, large shard sizes and association with ice-rafted debris (IRD) indicate that these late MIS 6 deposits were transported by iceberg-rafting from Iceland to Site U 1304. Comparison of individual shard geochemistry with the geochemistry of Holocene volcanic systems from Iceland allows the identification of different potential volcanic source regions. This detailed geochemical analysis, when combined with Icelandic Ice Sheet (IIS) flow models for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), suggests that the IIS had calving margins to both the north and south during the late MIS 6 and that icebergs could have been transported to the Site U 1304 by following surface ocean circulation patterns similar to those that prevailed during the LGM. We demonstrate that the descriptive concept of Icelandic glass in the characterization of tephra components within North Atlantic IRD can be significantly improved through quantitative characterization and that such data hold the potential to help constrain surface ocean circulation models, while also potentially yielding new information about the IIS during earlier glacial periods.