2012-2013 Science Planning Summaries
U.S. Antarctic Program - Science Support Section United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
GeomicroBiology of Antarctic Subglacial Environments (GBASE) beneath the Mercer and Whillans Ice Streams

Program Manager:
Dr. Lisa Clough


ASC POC/Implementer:
John Rand / Brian Johnson

Dr. John Priscu (Principal Investigator)
http://www.wissard.orgExternal Non U.S. Government Site

Montana State University Bozeman
Land Resources and Environmental Sciences
Bozeman, Montana

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Sublacial Lake Whillans

Project Description:
The WISSARD project is composed of three interrelated sets of grants: LISSARD (Tulaczyk C-521), RAGES (Powell C-522) and GBASE (Priscu C-523). These projects are connected scientifically through common interest in coupled fluxes of ice, nutrients and water, subglacial sediments and by the common need to characterize and quantify physical, chemical, and biological processes operating subglacially. The research will focus on the lower portion of Whillans Ice Stream, where two hydrologically connected subglacial environments that lie within close geographical proximity can be accessed: Subglacial Lake Whillans and wet subglacial sediments, including the grounding-zone wedge. The GBASE component will address metabolic and phylogenetic diversity and associated biogeochemical transformations in subglacial lake and grounding zone environments.

Field Season Overview:
This year the WISSARD field season consists of a build phase from Winfly through mid-December, a test phase at the old ANDRILL MIS site (mid-December), a traverse phase through early January, a field phase at Whillans Ice Plain and SLW-Deep (Subglacial Lake Whillans) through early February, and a return traverse through end of February.

Twelve GBASE participants will deploy in mid-November and make day trips to the ADNRILL McMurdo Ice Shelf (MIS) to conduct drill tests through December. In early January the drill and labs will be traversed to Subglacial Lake Whillans (SLW). Fixed-wing aircraft will fly personnel and camp gear to the base camp at SLW. Moving samples and personnel between locations will require an estimated three fixed wing flights per week between SLW and McMurdo. Crary lab support will be required throughout the season until mid-February.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Amanda Achberger
  • William Adkins
  • Brent Christner (Co-PI)
  • Robert Edwards
  • Susan Kelly
  • Alexander Michaud
  • Jill Mikucki (Co-PI)
  • Andrew Mitchell (Co-PI)
  • John Priscu (PI)
  • Mark Skidmore (Co-PI)
  • Trista Vick

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