Ocean Drilling Program Leg 178 (February-April 1998) drilled two sites (Sites 1097 and 1103) on the outer Antarctic Peninsula Pacific continental shelf. Recovered strata are no older than late Miocene or early Pliocene (<4.6 Ma). Recovery at shallow depths in loosely consolidated and iceberg-turbated bouldery sediment was poor but improved with increasing depth and consolidation to allow description of lithofacies and biofacies and interpretation of depositional environment. Site 1097 lies on the outer shelf within Marguerite Trough which is a major outlet for ice expanding seaward from the Antarctic Peninsula and reached a maximum depth drilled of 436.6 m below the sea floor (mbsf). Seismic stratigraphic data show flat-lying upper strata resting on strata that dip gently seaward. Uppermost strata, to a depth of 150 mbsf, were poorly recovered, but data suggest they consist of diamictites containing reworked and abraded marine microfauna. This interval is interpreted as having been deposited largely as till produced by subglacial cannibalization of marine sediments (deformation till) recording ice sheet expansion across the shelf. Underlying gently dipping strata show massive, stratified and graded diamictite facies with common bioturbation and slump stuctures that are interbedded with laminated and massive mudstones with dropstones. The succession contains a well-preserved in situ marine microfauna typical of open marine and proglacial marine environments. The lower gently dipping succession at Site 1097 is interpreted as a complex of sediment gravity flows formed of poorly sorted glacial debris. Site 1103 was drilled in that part of the continental margin that shows uppermost flat-lying continental shelf topsets overlying steeper dipping slope foresets seaward of a structural mid-shelf high. Drilling reached a depth of 363 mbsf with good recovery in steeply dipping continental slope foreset strata. Foreset strata are dominated by massive and chaotically stratified diamictites interbedded with massive and graded sandstones and mudstones. The sedimentary record and seismic stratigraphy is consistent with deposition on a continental slope from debris flows and turbidity currents released from a glacial source. Data from Sites 1097 and 1103 suggest the importance of aggradation of the Antarctic Peninsula continental shelf by tilt deposition and progradation of the slope by mass flow. This may provide a model for the interpretation of Palaeozoic and Proterozoic glacial successions that accumulated on glacially influenced continental margins.
Additional publication details
Ocean Drilling Program Leg 178 (Antarctic Peninsula): Sedimentology of glacially influenced continental margin topsets and foresets