Sediment grain size and surface textural observations of quartz grains in late quaternary lacustrine sediments from Schirmacher Oasis, East Antarctica: Paleoenvironmental significance

Anish Kumar Warrier, Hemant Pednekar, B. S. Mahesh, Rahul Mohan, Sahina Gazi

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12 Citations (Scopus)


In this study we report the sediment grain size parameters and surface textural observations (using scanning electron microscopy (SEM)) of quartz grains from sediments of Sandy Lake, Schirmacher Oasis, East Antarctica. The sediment core spans the last 43 cal ka B.P. The statistical parameters of grain size data (sorting, skewness, kurtosis, mean grain size, D10, D50, D90 and SPAN index) indicate that the sediments are primarily transported by melt-water streams and glaciers. However, during the last glacial period, sediments seem to be transported due to wind activity as evident by the good correlation between rounded quartz data and dust flux data from EPICA ice-core data. The mean grain size values are low during the last glacial period indicating colder climatic conditions and the values increase after the last glacial maximum suggesting an increase in the energy of the transporting medium, i.e., melt-water streams. The sediments are poorly sorted and finely skewed and show different modes of grain size distribution throughout the last 43 cal ka B.P. SEM studies of selected quartz grains and analyses of various surface textures indicate that glacigenic conditions must have prevailed at the time of their transport. Semi-quantitative analyses of mineral (quartz, feldspar, mica, garnet and rock fragments & other minerals) counts suggest a mixed population of minerals with quartz being the dominant mineral. Higher concentration of quartz grains over other minerals indicates that the sediments are compositionally mature. The study reveals the different types of physical weathering, erosive signatures, and chemical precipitation most of them characteristic of glacial environment which affected these quartz grains before final deposition as lake sediments. The palaeoclimatic signals obtained from this study show similarities with ice-core and lake sediment records from Schirmacher Oasis and other ice-free regions in East Antarctica.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-100
Number of pages12
JournalPolar Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01-03-2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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