In a PICL: The sedimentary deposits and facies of perennially ice-covered lakes

TitleIn a PICL: The sedimentary deposits and facies of perennially ice-covered lakes
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsRivera-Hernandez, F, Sumner, DY, Mackey, TJ, Hawes, I, Andersen, DT
Date Published04/2019

Perennially ice‐covered lakes can have significantly different facies than open‐water lakes because sediment is transported onto the ice, where it accumulates, and sand grains preferentially melt through to be deposited on the lake floor. To characterize the facies in these lakes, sedimentary deposits from five Antarctic perennially ice‐covered lakes were described using lake‐bottom observations, underwater video and images, and sediment cores. One lake was dominated by laminated microbial mats and mud (derived from an abutting glacier), with disseminated sand and rare gravel. The other four lakes were dominated by laminated microbial mats and moderately well to moderately sorted medium to very coarse sand with sparse granules and pebbles; they contained minor interstitial or laminated mud (derived from streams and abutting glaciers). The sand was disseminated or localized in mounds and 1 m to more than 10 m long elongate ridges. Mounds were centimetres to metres in diameter; conical, elongate or round in shape; and isolated or deposited near or on top of one another. Sand layers in the mounds had normal, inverse, or no grading. Nine mixed mud and sand facies were defined for perennially ice‐covered lakes based on the relative proportion of mud to sand and the style of sand deposition. While perennially ice‐covered lake facies overlap with other ice‐influenced lakes and glaciomarine facies, they are characterized by a paucity of grains coarser than granules, a narrow range in sand grain sizes, and inverse grading in the sand mounds. These facies can be used to infer changes in ice cover through time and to identify perennially ice‐covered lakes in the rock record. Ancient perennially ice‐covered lakes are expected on Earth and Mars, and their characterization will provide new insights into past climatic conditions and habitability.

Short TitleSedimentology