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An ancient river landscape preserved beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet

Jamieson, Stewart S. R.; Ross, Neil; Paxman, Guy J. G.; Clubb, Fiona J.; Young, Duncan A.; Yan, Shuai; Greenbaum, Jamin; Blankenship, Donald D.; Siegert, Martin J.

An ancient river landscape preserved beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet Thumbnail


Neil Ross

Duncan A. Young

Shuai Yan

Jamin Greenbaum

Donald D. Blankenship

Martin J. Siegert


The East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) has its origins ca. 34 million years ago. Since then, the impact of climate change and past fluctuations in the EAIS margin has been reflected in periods of extensive vs. restricted ice cover and the modification of much of the Antarctic landscape. Resolving processes of landscape evolution is therefore critical for establishing ice sheet history, but it is rare to find unmodified landscapes that record past ice conditions. Here, we discover an extensive relic pre-glacial landscape preserved beneath the central EAIS despite millions of years of ice cover. The landscape was formed by rivers prior to ice sheet build-up but later modified by local glaciation before being dissected by outlet glaciers at the margin of a restricted ice sheet. Preservation of the relic surfaces indicates an absence of significant warm-based ice throughout their history, suggesting any transitions between restricted and expanded ice were rapid.


Jamieson, S. S. R., Ross, N., Paxman, G. J. G., Clubb, F. J., Young, D. A., Yan, S., …Siegert, M. J. (2023). An ancient river landscape preserved beneath the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. Nature Communications, 14(1), Article 6507.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 2, 2023
Online Publication Date Oct 24, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Oct 26, 2023
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2023
Journal Nature Communications
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Article Number 6507
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Published Journal Article (6.9 Mb)


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