2015-2016 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2015-2016 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Microbialite Morphology in Lake Joyce, Antarctica

Graduate student Tyler Mackey deploying a sediment trap in Lake Joyce. In 2015, it will be retrieved through a PVC pipe with a self-heating insert left in the lake ice over winter. Photo by Justin Lawrence


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Thomas Wilch

ASC POC/Implementer:
Sune Tamm / Meghan Walker

Principal Investigator

Dr. Dawn Yvonne Sumner

University of California Davis
Geology Department
Davis, California

Project Web Site:
http://mygeologypage.ucdavis.edu/sumner/Antarctica.html External Web Site


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Lake Joyce / Pearse Valley


Researchers will characterize microbial mats that are growing on the floor of Lake Joyce. Previous results demonstrate that these mats are morphologically similar to fossil mats that are 2.5 to three billion years old in diverse locations around the globe. They will use the living mats in Lake Joyce to develop a model for biological, sedimentological, and geochemical processes that influence microbial mat morphology and will use that model to help constrain processes influencing ancient mat growth.

Field Season Overview

This project will finish their microbial mat study this season at Lake Joyce. Two science participants will be transported by helicopter to a small tent camp at Lake Joyce for two weeks. One ASC field coordinator will provide approximately one week of assistance to remove previously-deployed sediment traps through the ice cover of Lake Joyce. The sediment traps are self-heated which should allow them to melt out of the ice cover on their own, but the Mechanical Equipment Center may provide back-up equipment to assist with the removal. Water and sediment samples will be collected and sent to home institutions for further analysis. Construction staff will remove the Polar Haven at Lake Joyce for retrograde to McMurdo.

Deploying Team Members

  • Tyler Mackey (Co-PI)
  • Frances Rivera-Hernandez