2012-2013 Science Planning Summaries
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A geochemical study of the nature and evolution of mantle upwelling beneath Ross Island and its relationship to tectonics in the West Antarctic Rift System
Conceptual diagram of the Erebus mantle plume. Graphic courtesy of Ken Sims. 

Program Manager:
Dr. Alexandra Isern

G-092-M
NSF/PLR Award 1141167

ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Jessica Jenkins

Dr. Kenneth W Sims (Principal Investigator)
ksims7@uwyo.edu

University of Wyoming
Department of Geology and Geophysics
Laramie, Wyoming

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Capes Bird and Crozier / Mounts Bird and Terror

Project Description:
This project will conduct a detailed field- and laboratory-based geochemical study to investigate the magmagenesis of alkaline volcanism across Ross Island. This study will provide state of the art, major and trace element and isotopic (Nd, Hf, Sr, Pb) data for Mount Terror (3262 meters, 1700 cubic kilometers), Mount Bird (1800 meters, 470 cubic kilometers), and Hut Point Peninsula (100 cubic kilometers). The goals of this research will be to combine these new geochemical data with the existing Mount Erebus data to: (1) Examine the hypothesis that volcanism on Ross Island is controlled by mantle upwelling in the form of a small mantle plume or hot spot. Plume models predict spatial and temporal variations in the extent of magmatism and in the compositions of the erupted lavas that need to be examined across Ross Island. (2) Better understand the genesis of alkaline volcanism, both at Ross Island and globally. Being a major center of alkaline volcanism on a global scale, Ross Island represents an important opportunity to better understand the poorly understood genesis of primitive basanites and their subsequent evolution.

Field Season Overview:
Participants will be based at McMurdo Station to undertake sampling of volcanic rocks around the coast of Ross Island especially in Lewis Bay. They will use helicopter support to collect samples on the sea ice close to the shore and near cliff sections. They will use snow machines and tracked vehicles to collect samples along Hut Pont Peninsula. In the November timeframe, the group will occupy the New Zealand Antarctic Program’s hut at Cape Bird and later the Fang Glacier camp. Helicopter close support will enable them to sample Mount Bird’s summit and along the coast in addition to the small volcanic cones between Cape Crozier and Mounts Terror and Terra Nova.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Glenn Gaetani
  • Philip Kyle (Co-PI)
  • Daniel Rasmussen
  • Kenneth Sims (PI)
  • Paul Wallace
  • Erin Writer

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Curator: Esther L. Hill PhD, Antarctic Support Contract   |   NSF Official: Alexandra Isern, Division of Polar Programs