The mountainous topography along the spine of the Antarctic Peninsula (AP) has a major influence on Antarctic climate. It acts as a barrier to troposphere circulation, which funnels low-pressure centres northward through the Drake Passage and drives a pronounced atmospheric thermal gradient across the AP. Establishment of the topography is seen as a precondition for Cenozoic ice expansion. Despite its importance there is poor understanding about when the AP topography first developed and the mechanism(s) that created it.
This project will map the timing and pattern of topographic growth by using apatite thermochronometry data obtained from strategic sample transects along the Antarctic Peninsula. The project will use existing samples from the BAS collection, supplemented, where necessary, by fieldwork to plug any data gaps. Results will be used to test the various tectonic models that have been put forward to explain the timing and origin of the AP topography.