2013-2014 Science Planning Summaries
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West Antarctic Ice Sheet stability, alpine glaciation, and climate variability: A terrestrial perspective from cosmogenic-nuclide dating in McMurdo Sound

Program Manager:
Dr. Thomas Wilch

Event Number: G-054-M

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Meghan Walker

Dr. David R Marchant (Principal Investigator)
http://people.bu.edu/marchant/External Non U.S. Government Site

Boston University
Department of Earth Sciences
Boston, Massachusetts

Supporting Stations:  McMurdo Station
Research Locations:  Mount Discovery / Brown Peninsula / Black Island

Project Description:
This project will develop high-resolution maps of drifts deposited from grounded marine-based ice and alpine glaciers on islands and peninsulas in McMurdo Sound. In addition, researchers will acquire multi-clast/multi-nuclide cosmogenic analyses of these mapped drift sheets and alpine moraines. They will use regional climate modeling to shed light on the range of possible environmental conditions in the McMurdo region during periods of grounded-ice expansion and recession. The researchers will also make use of geological records for ice sheet and alpine glacier fluctuations preserved on the flanks of Mount Discovery, Black Island, and Brown Peninsula. Drifts deposited from grounded, marine-based ice will yield spatial constraints for former advances and retreats of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). Moraines from alpine glaciers, hypothesized to be of interglacial origin, could yield a first-order record of hydrologic change in the region. Synthesizing the field data, the team proposes to improve the resolution of existing regional-scale climate models for the Ross Embayment. The overall approach and anticipated results will provide the first steps towards linking the marine and terrestrial records in this critical sector of Antarctica.

Field Season Overview:
Two field team member from the Marchant group will deploy and work collaboratively field team members from Dr. Kate Swanger’s team (G-085). The Swanger-Marchant combined teams will work together in the Dry Valleys until mid-January, at which time the Swanger-led team will return to McMurdo Station. The remaining Marchant team will remain in the field and move immediately to Mount Discovery, where they will work for the remainder of the season to collect cosmogenic-nuclide samples.

Deploying Team Members:

  • David Marchant (PI)

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