Earth Institute Research Projects

History of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet Since the Mid-Miocene: New Evidence from Provenance of Ice-rafted Debris

Lead PI: Sidney Rasbury Hemming , Dr. Tina Van De Flierdt , Dr. Trevor J. Williams

Unit Affiliation: Marine Geology & Geophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

July 2010 - June 2014
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The project will analyze cores from around East Antarctica and Wilkes Land for 40Ar/39Ar, U-Pb, and Sm-Nd isotopes to fingerprint continental source areas to gain information on historical ice extent and dynamics. This should lead to insight about ice destabilization in past climates.

OUTCOMES: Samples from numerous sites have been analyzed, one journal publication, four presentations, and eight one time publications. Found that the mid-Miocene climate transition is represented by large pulses of IRD providing direct evidence of significant ice sheet advance/retreat cyclicity during this time.


National Science Foundation (NSF)




Imperial College London



T. Williams. "How Antarctic ice retreats," Nature, v.509, 2014, p. 39. doi:doi:10.1038/nature13345

Pierce, E L; Williams, T; van de Flierdt, T; Hemming, S R; Goldstein, S L; Brachfeld, S A. "Characterizing the sediment provenance of East Antarctica's weak underbelly: The Aurora and Wilkes sub-glacial basins," Paleoceanography, v.26, 2011. doi:10.1029/2011PA002127

Carys P. Cook, Tina van de Flierdt, Trevor Williams, Sidney R. Hemming, M. Iwai, M. Kobayashi, F. J. Jimenez-Espejo, C. Escutia, J. J. González, B-K Khim, R. M. McKay, S. Passchier, S. M. Bohaty, et al.. "Dynamic behaviour of the East Antarctic ice sheet during Pliocene warmth," Nature Geoscience, v.6, 2013, p. 1-5. doi:doi:10.1038/ngeo1889

C. P. Cook, D. Hill, T. van de Flierdt, T. Williams, S. R. Hemming, A. M. Dolan, E. L. Pierce, C. D. Escutia, D. Harwood, G. Cortese, J. J. Gonzales. "Sea surface temperature control on the distribution of far-travelled Southern Ocean ice-rafted detritus during the Pliocene.," Paleoceanography, v.29, 2014, p. 533. doi:doi: 0.1002/2014PA002625


antarctica climate change sea level lead (Pb) pliocene argon (Ar) neodymium ocean and climate physics samarium paleoclimate ice-rafted debris oceans uranium