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Abstract

It is assumed that close to the margins of ice-sheets, glacial, fluvial and aeolian processes overlap, and combined with weathering processes, produce numerous sediments, in which quartz is a common mineral. Quartz grains, if available, may serve as a powerful tool in determining the depositional history, transportation mode and postdepositional processes. However, quartz grain studies in some modern glacial areas are still sparse. In this study, we examine for the first time quartz grains sampled from the modern glacial and proglacial environments of the Russell Glacier, southwest Greenland in binocular microscope and scanning electron microscope, to analyze their shape, character of surface and microtextures. We debate whether the investigated quartz grains reveal glacial characteristics and to what extent they carry a signal of another transportation and sedimentary processes. Although glacial fracturing and abrasion occur in grain suites, most mechanical origin features are not of a high frequency or freshness, potentially suggesting a reduced shear stress in the glacier from its limited thickness and influence of the pressurized water at the ice-bed. In contrast, the signal that originates from the fluvial environment is much stronger derived by numerous aqueous-induced features present on quartz grain surfaces. Aeolian-induced microtextures on grain surfaces increase among the samples the closest to the ice margin, which may be due to enhanced aeolian activity, but are practically absent in sediments taken from the small scale aeolian landforms. In contrast, aeolian grains have been found in the bigger-size (1.0-2.0 mm) investigated fraction. These grains gained the strongest aeolian abrasion, possibly due to changes in transportation mode.
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Abstract

Eighteen sediment samples from a 36 cm long sediment core retrieved from a proglacial lake (namely P 11) situated in the Schirmacher Oasis, East Antarctica, were analysed for the study of quartz grain morphology and microtexture, along with sand percentage, to reconstruct the paleoenvironmental changes in the lake during the Holocene. The age of the core ranges from 3.3 ka BP to 13.9 ka BP. The quartz grain morphology and microtexture reveal significant evidences of glacial transport along with some eolian and aqueous activities. On the basis of predominance of these signatures and the zonation from CONISS Cluster Analysis on the percentages of characteristic grain morphology and microtextures, the entire core has been subdivided into three major zones. From the paleoenvironmental perspective, it can be concluded that there is an onset of interglacial period at the advent of Holocene (12.3 ka BP), which reigned until 5.3 ka BP and thereafter, again a glacial environment prevailed until 3.3 ka BP with some variations in-between. The results indicate probable alternative colder and less colder phases in the study area, which are also well supported by the respective sand percentages in the sediments. © 2017 Polish Academy of Sciences 2017.
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