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
Geophysical Investigation of Marie Byrd Land Lithospheric Evolution - GIMBLE

Program Manager:
Dr. Mark Kurz


ASC POC/Implementer:
Brian Johnson / Leslie Blank

Dr. Duncan A Young (Principal Investigator)

University of Texas Austin
Institute for Geophysics
Austin, Texas

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Byrd Camp

Project Description:
Marie Byrd Land represents a significant highland dividing the Amundsen Sea Embayment (ASE) of West Antarctica from its Ross Embayment. Its topographic evolution likely played a key role in the origin of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). A number of contesting hypotheses for the origin of Marie Byrd Land make predictions for the potential fields and the geomorphology of the underlying crust. This project will perform a 16-flight aerogeophysical survey of Marie Byrd Land, collecting three key datasets: gravity, magnetics, and radar data. Gravity with collocated radar will be used to constrain the compensation state of Marie Byrd Land; magnetics will be used to assess the potential for ongoing sub-ice volcanism (and thus qualitatively assess heat flow); and ice-penetrating radar will be used to map out, at five-kilometer resolution, the topography of the interior slope of Marie Byrd Land's bedrock, to understand the evolution of erosion and thus regional topography.

Field Season Overview:
The overall objective of this cruise is to conduct a reconnaissance survey of the region of the Totten Glacier System, including the Moscow University Ice Shelf (Sabrina Coast, East Antarctica) in February 2014 in order to: (1) evaluate the recent behavior of the glacial system, based on seafloor morphology, sub bottom profiling, high-resolution seismic imaging and marine sediment core evaluation, (2) to elucidate the longer term role of the Totten Glacier as it responded to late Quaternary changes in climate and sea level, and (3) assess the present day physical oceanographic and particulate dynamic processes associated with the Totten Glacier tongue and the deep basins that surround it. If time and conditions allow, we will sample alternate areas of work including secondary targets along the Wilkes Land Margin and Oates Coast, including the nearby Mertz Trough, as well as adjacent Frost, George V and Cook Glacier systems, and potentially reaching to the Shackleton Ice Shelf system (Denman Glacier) to complement and support the over-arching science objectives of this proposal by providing concrete west-east transit targets that will contribute to our knowledge of the sedimentary record of sub-glacial melt water outflow and the time of ice retreat from the Wilkes Land Margin.

Deploying Team Members:

  • Gonzalo Echeverry (Team Leader)
  • Jamin Greenbaum (Team Leader)
  • Chad Greene
  • Gail Gutowski
  • Gregory Ng
  • Evelyn Powell
  • Thomas Richter
  • Duncan Young (PI)

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