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Variations in the composition of the clay fraction of the Cenozoic Pagodroma Group, East Antarctica: implications for determining provenance


Ehrmann, W and Bloemendal, J and Hambrey, MJ and McKelvey, B and Whitehead, JM, Variations in the composition of the clay fraction of the Cenozoic Pagodroma Group, East Antarctica: implications for determining provenance, Sedimentary Geology, 161, (1-2) pp. 131-152. ISSN 0037-0738 (2003) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1016/S0037-0738(03)00069-1


The Cenozoic Pagodroma Group in the northern Prince Charles Mountains, East Antarctica, is a glaciomarine succession of fjordal character, comprising four uplifted formations of different ages. The composition of the <2 μm fraction of sediments of the Pagodroma Group was analysed in order to help identify source areas, past weathering conditions and glacial regimes. Both clay and non-clay minerals have been quantified. The assemblage of the upper Oligocene to lower Miocene Mount Johnston Formation is characterised by the dominance of illite and intermediate concentrations of chlorite. Similar to that assemblage is the clay mineral suite of the middle Miocene Fisher Bench Formation, where illite and chlorite together account for 95% of the clay minerals. The middle to upper Miocene Battye Glacier Formation is the only formation with significant and persistent smectite concentrations, although illite is still dominant. The kaolinite concentration is also high and is even higher than that of chlorite. The clay fraction of the upper Pliocene to lower Pleistocene Bardin Bluffs Formation is characterised by maximum kaolinite concentrations and relatively low illite and chlorite concentrations. The bulk of the clay fraction in each formation can be explained by the physical weathering and erosion of a nearby source under glacial conditions. In the case of Mount Johnston Formation and Fisher Bench Formation this source may be situated in the metavolcanic and gneissic rocks of Fisher Massif. The sediments of the Bardin Bluffs Formation indicate a local source within the Amery Oasis, where Proterozoic granitoid rocks and gneisses, and Permo-Triassic fluvial rocks of the Amery Group are exposed. These results suggest a strong local imprint on the glacial sediments as northwards flowing ice eroded the bedrock in these areas. The origin of the clay fraction of the Battye Glacier Formation is a matter of debate. The smectite and kaolinite content most easily can be explained by erosion of sources largely hidden beneath the ice upstream. Less likely, these clay minerals reflect climatic conditions that were much warmer and wetter than today, facilitating chemical weathering. © 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geology
Research Field:Sedimentology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Whitehead, JM (Dr Jason Whitehead)
ID Code:29154
Year Published:2003
Web of Science® Times Cited:25
Deposited By:IASOS
Deposited On:2003-08-01
Last Modified:2011-11-28

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