2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Friis Hills drilling project: An international collaboration to examine the Miocene transition in Antarctica

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Thomas Wilch

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Elizabeth Kauffman

Principal Investigator

Mr. Douglas Edward Kowalewski

National Science Foundation
Office of Polar Programs
Alexandria, Virginia


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Friis Hills


Ancient and well-preserved glacial lake sediments have proven to be a valuable terrestrial paleoclimate record in Antarctica. For this project, a U.S. research team will join scientists supported by Antarctica New Zealand (ANZ) to reconstruct past climate and glacial response from a terrestrial perspective using data derived from coring paleolake sediments in the Friis Hills. The ANZ team will lead the drilling operations, and the US team will aid in core interpretation and correlation of core intervals to local surficial geology deposits. Paleoclimate indicators and timing of events derived from terrestrial layers will be directly compared to the marine sediment core record (ANDRILL and IODP), allowing synthesis of environmental data across a broad onshore-offshore transect. The goal is to better understand Antarctica’s mid-Miocene transition from a vegetated to glaciated landscape.

Field Season Overview

Participants will work with a team supported by Antarctica New Zealand (ANZ) to recover approximately 200 meters of sediment cores from the Friis Hills. The USAP team will join the established ANZ campsite in the Dry Valleys at Friis Hills. The USAP group will require their own logistical support, including personal tents, kitchen, toileting, other field camp equipment, and food. USAP helicopters will facilitate camp put-in and pull-out, camp resupply, and an aerial survey. The teams will work together to drill and recover sediment cores from three sites near the camp, and a fourth sampling site located in eastern Friis Hills. They will access all sites by foot. ANZ will supply and manage all drilling equipment and operations. They will also be responsible for managing, storing and shipping off continent any acquired sediment cores. The USAP group will establish chronology of the sediment core layers and use them to determine the location of Friis Hills volcanic ash surface outcrops to be sampled. Collected ash samples will be shipped to the Principal Investigator’s home institution through the USAP cargo system. The USAP group will also set up meteorological stations that will remain in place for the duration of field deployment.

Deploying Team Members

  • Anna Halberstadt
  • Douglas Kowalewski (PI)