2015-2016 Science Planning Summaries
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2015-2016 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

CAREER: Deciphering the tectonic history of the Transantarctic Mountains and the Wilkes Subglacial Basin

The TAMNNET field crew servicing a seismic station in the northern Transantarctic Mountains. Photo by Brian DuBay


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Thomas Wilch

ASC POC/Implementer:
Matthew Erickson / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator

Dr. Samantha Hansen

University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
Department of Geological Sciences
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Project Web Site:
http://geo.ua.edu/profile/hansen-samantha/ External Web Site


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Terra Nova Bay


An understanding of the tectonic development of Antarctica requires characterization of the seismic structure beneath the Transantarctic Mountains (TAM) and the Wilkes Subglacial Basin (WSB). Current constraints on crustal thickness and seismic velocity structure beneath the TAM and the WSB are limited, leading to uncertainties over competing geodynamic models. To broaden the investigation of this region, a new 15-station seismic deployment, the Transantarctic Mountains Northern Network (TAMNNET), is being installed across the northern TAM and the WSB. The study will address four fundamental questions: (1) How variable is the crustal structure beneath the TAM? (2) Is the WSB characterized by thin crust and thick sedimentary layers? (3) How do seismic velocities vary along strike beneath the TAM? And (4) How did the TAM and the WSB originate and how does their formation relate to the geologic history of Antarctica? Data from TAMNNET will be combined with that from other previous and ongoing seismic initiatives and analyzed using proven modeling techniques to generate an unprecedented image of the seismic structure beneath the TAM and the WSB.

Field Season Overview

During this, the fourth year of the five-year TAMNNET project, team members will decomission and retrieve their 15 seismic stations from remote field sites in the Transantarctic Mountains and on the East Antarctic Plateau. They will reach these locations primarily by fixed wing aircraft from McMurdo Station. The Italian program may also provide some logistical support.

Deploying Team Members

  • Gregory Brenn
  • Caleb Essex
  • Jordan Graw
  • Samantha Hansen (PI)