Rock Mass Loss on a Nunatak in Western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica

D. W. Hedding, C. D. Hansen, W. Nel, M. Loubser, J. J. Le Roux, K. I. Meiklejohn
2016 Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research  
194 Words: 1912 (main text, excluding references) Abstract This paper presents the first rock mass loss data for uncut clasts from continental Antarctica. A rock mass loss experiment using doleritic rock samples was conducted over a seven-year period, between 2008 and 2014 at the Vesleskarvet nunataks, Western Dronning Maud Land. The data show that approximately 10% of clasts have experienced relatively large rates of mass loss. The data suggest that rock mass loss occurs in a series of events
more » ... a series of events which are impossible to predict in terms of frequency and/or magnitude. However, extrapolating from the data obtained during the seven-year period indicates that rates of mass loss are slow and of the order of 1% per 100 years. Direct erosion by wind (including abrasion) as well as mechanical and chemical weathering are suggested to be responsible for rock mass loss. Rock properties, weathering environment and a lack of available moisture may be contributing factors to the slow rate of rock decay. This paper suggests that in this area of Antarctica, the slow rate of rock mass loss increases the longevity of existing periglacial landforms such as patterned ground and blockfields, but inhibits development of new patterned ground through the slow production of fines. Maud Land The Department of Environmental Affairs and the National Research Foundation are gratefully acknowledged for logistical and financial support. This work is published under the NRF/SANAP project: Landscape and climate interactions in a changing sub-Antarctic environment (Grant no 93075). Prof. Paul Sumner is thanked for providing comments on the manuscript. The reviewers are thanked for providing comments that improved the quality of the manuscript. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors and the NRF do not accept any liability in regard thereto. References
doi:10.1657/aaar0015-005 fatcat:imzgabg3zfetrjqyxl3qff32fa