Critical pieces of Antarctica?s climatic and cryospheric history remain uncertain owing to a lack of high quality climate data from this region. In particular, sedimentary archives deposited during the Oligocene, which includes the ?mid? Oligocene (a time of amplified climate-ice volume variability), and the late Miocene when the relative stability of the ice sheet is still highly debated, are major missing pieces in deciphering the climate history of Antarctica. The goal of Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 318 to Wilkes land was to investigate the glacial history of Antarctica from the Greenhouse World, a time of global warmth, with little to no glacial ice, to the Icehouse World, a time of continental size ice sheets. The Wilkes Land area is critical in understanding this history as numerical models suggest that this region was among the last areas of East Antarctica to become glaciated. This makes this part of East Antarctica the most sensitive to climate changes in the past and more vulnerable to future change. This research has two major foci. First, determining the timing when the ice sheet and various ice streams reached the Antarctic coastline during the Oligocene using high-resolution grain size records to identify ice rafted debris (IRD) provenance records using Ar Ar dating of hornblende grains from the IRD to constrain the source of icebergs. Second, examining an oceanic warming event during the Late Miocene (12-11 million years BP) that appears to be synchronous with a significant glacial retreat of over 300 km in Prydz Bay. This is will be accomplished by developing paired high-resolution stable isotope and Mg/ Ca ratio records from benthic and possibly planktonic foraminifers and foraminiferal biofacies from Late Miocene strata from Site U1361 and then correlate them to the Prydz Bay records. The results from this project will provide, for the first time, the requisite data from a site proximal to Antarctica to test hypotheses and answer yet unresolved questions related to the timing and extent of the Antarctic ice sheet during the start of the icehouse world (Oligocene) and during a time interval when the ice sheet was considered to be relatively stable (Late Miocene). Additionally, these results will also be key for climate modelers in developing a better understanding of ice sheet dynamics during these time intervals. The main educational outreach goal of this project is to inspire and educate the next generation of Antarctic researchers by developing an undergraduate research and mentoring program for three undergraduate students and one graduate student. This is in tune with a long-term commitment of the PI working in community and educational outreach efforts. As part of educational outreach, the PI will host post-cruise video conferences being organized by Ocean Leadership for schools that participated in video conferencing during the expedition. Additional outreach activities include giving presentations and hands-on demonstrations to six major museums across the country.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
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Thomas Janecek
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CUNY Queens College
United States
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