A reinterpretation of geomorphological evidence for Glacial Lake Victoria, McMurdo Dry Valleys

McGowan, Hamish A., Neil, David T. and Speirs, Johanna C. (2014) A reinterpretation of geomorphological evidence for Glacial Lake Victoria, McMurdo Dry Valleys. Geomorphology, 208 200-206. doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.12.005

Author McGowan, Hamish A.
Neil, David T.
Speirs, Johanna C.
Title A reinterpretation of geomorphological evidence for Glacial Lake Victoria, McMurdo Dry Valleys
Journal name Geomorphology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0169-555X
Publication date 2014-03-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.12.005
Volume 208
Start page 200
End page 206
Total pages 7
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Formatted abstract
• Topographic data of postulated shorelines of Glacial Lake Victoria are presented.
• Results show the shoreline features are not horizontal or linearly continuous.
• LiDAR data DEM shows the features resemble relict mass movement scars.
• Our results do not support the postulated existence of Glacial Lake Victoria.

The largely snow and ice free McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica are one of the coldest and driest locations on Earth. It has been proposed that during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) to the early Holocene large lakes up to 200 m deep and 100 km2 in area occupied these valleys. We present the first topographic survey of features reported to be shorelines from one such lake, Glacial Lake Victoria, in Victoria Valley. In combination with the analysis of laser altimetry data obtained from the NASA Airborne Topographic Mapper system and cosmogenic dating of granite boulders we show that the features previously thought to be shorelines are not horizontally or linearly continuous. Rather, we conclude that they are scars from ancient slope mass movement deposits. 10Be cosmogenic dating indicates that their formation is on timescales of at least 160 ka before present and not 20 ka as the LGM mega-lake hypothesis suggests. We conclude that the geomorphic features believed to be shorelines and which underpin the LGM mega-lake hypothesis in Victoria Valley are mass movement deposits and not lake shorelines. Our results support an emerging body of literature unable to find evidence to verify the McMurdo Dry Valleys LGM mega-lake hypothesis. Accordingly we suggest caution in invoking such significant landscape features in discussions of the environmental past of this unique region until such time as further research provides an unequivocal history of the region's geomorphic past.
Keyword Victoria Valley
Mass movement
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Available online 14 December 2013

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
Official 2014 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 5 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 19 Feb 2014, 02:57:04 EST by Claire Lam on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management