International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 99, Issue 4, pp 909–926 | Cite as

Sedimentary processes on the Wilkes Land continental rise reflect changes in glacial dynamic and bottom water flow

  • Andrea Caburlotto
  • R. G. Lucchi
  • L. De Santis
  • P. Macrì
  • R. Tolotti
Review Article


Four sediment cores were analysed in order to determine the sedimentary processes associated with the channel-ridge depositional system that characterise the George V Land continental margin on the Wilkes Land. The sedimentary record indicates that the WEGA channel was a dynamic turbiditic system up to M.I.S. 11. After this time, the channel became a lower-energy environment with sediments delivered to the channel through high-density bottom waters that we identify to be the high salinity shelf waters (HSSW) forming on the shelf area. The HSSW entrains the fine-grained sediments of the shelf area and deliver them to the continental rise. The biostratigraphy and facies of the sediments within the WEGA channel indicate that the HSSW down flow was active also during last glacial. The change from a turbiditic system to a low-energy bottom current system within the WEGA channel likely reflects a different ice-flow pattern, with ice-sheet reaching the continental shelf edge only within the ice trough (ice stream).


High salinity shelf water Turbidity currents Glacio-marine depositional processes Marine isotopic stage 11 Glacial dynamic changes 



We acknowledge Captain and crew of the R.V. Tangaroa for their skilful support during the WEGA 2000 cruise. We thank G. Kuhn, M. Weber and R. Stein for detailed review that greatly improved the manuscript. This work was funded by the Programma Nazionale delle Ricerche in Antartide (PNRA) under the WEGA Project. The first author benefits from an OGS doctoral fellowship in Polar Science at the University of Siena (Italy). The grain size analysis has been made at the “Laboratorio Antartide” at the Department of Geological, environmental and Marine Sciences of the University of Trieste (Italy).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Caburlotto
    • 1
  • R. G. Lucchi
    • 2
  • L. De Santis
    • 1
  • P. Macrì
    • 3
  • R. Tolotti
    • 4
  1. 1.Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale, OGSSgonicoItaly
  2. 2.Department D’Estatrigrafia, P. i Geociénces MarinesUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, INGVRomeItaly
  4. 4.Dip. Te. Ris.Università degli Studi di GenovaGenoaItaly

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