Antarctic Science

Papers—Earth Sciences and Glaciology

Landscape development in western and central Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica

Jens-Ove Näslund a1
a1 Department of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Article author query
näslund j   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Large-scale bedrock morphology and relief of two key areas, the Jutulsessen Nunatak and the Jutulstraumen ice stream are used to discuss glascial history and landscape development in western and central Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica. Two main landform components were identified: well-defined summit plateau surfaces and a typical alpine glacial landscape. The flat, high-elevation plateau surfaces previously were part of one or several continuous regional planation surfaces. In western Dronning Maud Land, overlying cover rocks of late Palaeozoic age show that the planation surface(s) existed in the early Permian, prior to the break-up of Gondwana. A well-develoment escarpment, a mega landform typical for passive continental margins, bounds the palaeosurface remnants to the north for a distance of at least 700 km. The Cenozoic glacial landscape, incised in the palaeosurface and escarpment, is exemplified by Jutulsessen Nunatak, where a c. 1.2 km deep glacial valley system is developed. However, the prominent Penck-Jutul Trough represents some of the deepest dissection of the palaeosurface. This originally tectonic feature is today occupied by the Jutulstraumen ice stream. New topographic data show that the bed of the Penck-Jutul Trough is situated 1.9±1.1 km below sea level, and that the total landscape relief is at least 4.2 km. Today's relief is a result of several processes, including tectonic faulting, subaerial weathering, fluvial erosion, and glacial erosion. It is probable that erosion by ice streams has deepened the tectonic troughs of Dronning Maud Land since the onset of ice sheet glaciation in the Oligocene, and continues today. An attempt is made to identify major events in the long-term landscape development of Dronning Maud Land, since the break-up of the Gondwana continent.

(Received December 5 2000)
(Accepted June 2001)

Key Words: Dronning Maud Land; erosion; ice sheet; landscape evolution; palaeosurface; passive continental margin; planation surface.