Central Arctic Ocean Sediment Texture: A Key to Ice Transport Mechanisms
The perennial Arctic Ocean ice-cover consists of sea ice and glacial ice. Sea ice is most common today but at times during the Late Cenozoic, glacial ice has been extremely abundant. Both sea ice and glacial ice can transport a significant sediment load. The mode of incorporation of sediment into the two ice types is quite different. Sea ice can trap atmospheric dust that accumulates during times of precipitation. In addition, silt and clay mobilized by wave action during autumnal storms in shallow shelf areas, may be incorporated into sea ice as it begins to form. This fine-grained component can be transported from the shelf to the central Arctic Ocean. Coarser sediment may be plucked from beach areas by shore-fast ice but probably is dropped before significant transport.
In contrast, glacial ice enters the Arctic ice-pack carrying a significant sediment load of coarse and fine-grained material. Most of the coarse sediment accumulating in the central Arctic has been ice-rafted by glacial ice.
Sediment cores considered to represent the record of approximately the last 5 m.y., contain the record of ice transport into the central Arctic. A textural classification is useful in understanding important times of ice transport mechanisms. Transportation by glacial ice is primarily responsible for coarser (type IV) sediment, sea ice may be the major source of finer (type III) sediment, and a combination of both transport mechanisms may best explain type I (mixed coarse and fine) sediment. The sediment record suggests that neither giant Arctic Ocean ice-caps nor ice-free conditions have existed for at least 5 m.y.
KeywordsArctic Ocean Late Miocene Coarse Sediment Environmental Regime Central Arctic Ocean
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