The Ross Ice Shelf is the Antarctic region that over the last deglaciation experienced the greatest change in areal ice cover. Today, cold, dense and saline water masses (brines) produced in the Ross Sea polynya, flow from the shelf to the deep ocean providing a significant contribution to the propelling of the global ocean circulation regulating the climate. In particular, the Hillary Canyon in the Eastern Ross Sea is the main conduit through which brines descend the slope to reach the deeper ocean and is thus one of the greatest regions of cold, dense water export in the world. A Contourite Depositional System (the ODYSSEA CDS) on the western flank of the Hillary Canyon is inferred to have been generated through several hundred-thousand years by along-slope, contour currents that transported and accumulated the sediments brought down the Hillary Canyon by means of brines. A multi-proxy investigation was conducted on the shallowest part of the ODYSSEA CDS depositional sequences, which we expect to contain i) the record of the brine formation, ii) the indication on contour current strength through time, and iii) their interplay and modulation associated to climate change. Six gravity cores, collected in both the proximal and distal area of the ODYSSEA CDS, were studied through multi-proxy analyses including sediment physical properties (texture, structures, water content, wet bulk density), compositional characteristics (XRF, geochemistry and detrital apatite, zircon, and rutile U-Pb on ice-rafted debris) (Lucchi et al., 2019; Neofitu et al., 2020) and microfossil content (planktonic and benthic foraminifera, calcareous nannofossils and diatoms). An age model has been reconstructed combining palaeomagnetic record, biostratigraphic content, tephrochronology and AMS radiocarbon dating on planktonic foraminifera tests. Inferred variations in dense water formation, contour current strength and ice sheet dynamics are discussed in the light of our data interpretation.
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