During December, 1986 and January 1987 two 200-m cores were drilled at the Plateau Remote site (84oS; 43oE; 3330 masl) near the Pole of Relative Inaccessibility on the East Antarctic Plateau (see photograph). These deeper cores were complemented by a number of 8 to 20-m cores and the sampling of two pits. The Plateau Remote core provides the longest high-resolution dust and 18O histories for the East Antarctic Plateau. These histories exhibit variations on decadal to centennial time scales. The 10-year averages of 18O which range from a low of -57.3 o/oo around 2200 yr.B.P. to a high of -47.5o/oo at 3500 yr.B.P. For comparison, the 20th century average is -54.6 o/oo.
Like the dust record, 18O (see figure) also exhibits a number of large and abrupt isotopic excursions lasting from a few decades to a few centuries with some of them (e.g., 3000, 2800 and 1400 yr.B.P.) clearly approaching magnitudes of the glacial to interglacial stage transition (5 to 6 o/oo). Although 18O and dust excursions lasting less than 100 years may be dominated by surface processes, but it is unlikely that multi-centennial events (shown in the figure) are artifacts of scouring and re-deposition. The question of their spatial representivity remains and may only be addressed by future high resolution analysis of cores from other East Antarctic locations.
Plateau Remote cores are also beginning to yield a history of Southern Hemisphere volcanism. This is the thesis project of Mr. Shawn Wight. When completed, we expect a 4000 year history which will complement the volcanic record of the latter half of the Holocene from the Greenland (GISP2) core. Together these ice core histories will reveal the volcanic events of global-scale significance.
Mosley-Thompson, E., J. F. Paskievitch and S. M. Gross. 1987. Ice-core drilling for paleoclimatic information at Plateau Remote. Antarctic Journal of the U.S., 22(5), 78-79.
Mosley-Thompson, E. Holocene Climate Changes Recorded in an East Antarctica Ice Core. 1995. Climatic Variations and Forcing mechanisms of the last 2,000. (Eds. P.D. Jones, R. Bradley and J. Jouzel), NATO Advanced Research Series I, Volume 41, 263-279.
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