We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Reconstructions of Antarctic topography since the Eocene–Oligocene boundary.

Paxman, G.J.G. and Jamieson, S.S.R. and Hochmuth, K. and Gohl, K. and Bentley, M.J. and Leitchenkov, G. and Ferraccioli, F. (2019) 'Reconstructions of Antarctic topography since the Eocene–Oligocene boundary.', Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology., 535 . p. 109346.


Accurate models of past Antarctic ice sheet behaviour require realistic reconstructions of the evolution of bedrock topography. However, other than a preliminary attempt to reconstruct Antarctic topography at the Eocene–Oligocene boundary, the long-term evolution of Antarctica's subglacial topography throughout its glacial history has not previously been quantified. Here, we derive new reconstructions of Antarctic topography for four key time slices in Antarctica's climate and glacial history: the Eocene–Oligocene boundary (ca. 34 Ma), the Oligocene–Miocene boundary (ca. 23 Ma), the mid-Miocene climate transition (ca. 14 Ma), and the mid-Pliocene warm period (ca. 3.5 Ma). To reconstruct past topography, we consider a series of processes including ice sheet loading, volcanism, thermal subsidence, horizontal plate motion, erosion, sedimentation and flexural isostatic adjustment, and validate our models where possible using onshore and offshore geological constraints. Our reconstructions show that the land area of Antarctica situated above sea level was ~25% larger at the Eocene–Oligocene boundary than at the present-day. Offshore sediment records and terrestrial constraints indicate that the incision of deep subglacial topographic troughs around the margin of East Antarctica occurred predominantly in the Oligocene and early Miocene, whereas in West Antarctica erosion and sedimentation rates accelerated after the mid-Miocene. Changes to the topography after the mid-Pliocene were comparatively minor. Our new palaeotopography reconstructions provide a critical boundary condition for models seeking to understand past behaviour of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and have implications for estimating changes in global ice volume, temperature, and sea level across major Cenozoic climate transitions.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Date accepted:27 August 2019
Date deposited:06 September 2019
Date of first online publication:28 August 2019
Date first made open access:06 September 2019

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar