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Continental slope geomorphology: A comparison of Arctic and Antarctic margins Mobile researcher: Jenny Gales, UK

Awarded: NOK 41,000

There is currently a distinct lack of knowledge of processes operating on high-latitude continental slopes. As the ice sheets play a pivotal role in the Earth-climate system, with the potential to cause major changes in global sea level, it is necessary t o understand how the ice-sheets changed in the past, in order to understand better how they will change in the future. As ice was grounded at the continental shelf edge in many locations during the Last Glacial Maximum, submarine slopes around Antarctica are strongly influenced by ice-sheet dynamics. Sediment deposits from the continental shelf, slope and rise contain a record of varying ice-sheet extent, sub-glacial processes, past erosion and changes in climate and by coring these sediments, glacial his tories can be reconstructed; however this is limited by the lack of knowledge of processes which influence the continental slope. Slope processes modify this sediment record through erosion, remobilisation and deposition, limiting our ability to interpret past ice dynamic histories. This study aims to provide constraints on processes operating on high-latitude continental slopes through a comprehensive multi-disciplinary study that examines in detail the quantitative differences between Antarctic and Arc tic continental slope geomorphology. By constraining Antarctic gully forming mechanisms, we increase our understanding of seafloor erosion patterns, continental margin evolution and processes operating on continental margins, allowing for improved interpr etation of sediment core records which are used to reconstruct past glacial histories. A better understanding of gully morphology will also improve both our knowledge of how gullies develop as precursors to the more major features of continental slopes, s uch as canyons, and our knowledge of slope stability and geological hazards.

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