2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA): Integrated study of carbon cycling in hydrologically active subglacial environments: Drilling Component

Ice coring on Commonwealth Glacier to study organic matter trapped in the ice.
Photo by John C. Priscu, Montana State University


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Meghan Walker / Matthew Kippenhan

Principal Investigator

Dr. John Priscu

Montana State University Bozeman
Land Resources and Environmental Sciences
Bozeman, Montana

Project Web Site:


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Whillans Ice Plain


The Subglacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access (SALSA) project will use a clean access hot water drill to penetrate into Subglacial Lake Mercer (SLM), one of the largest and most dynamic subglacial lakes on the Whillans Ice Plain. The lake is hydraulically active with water replacement times on the order of a decade. The team will collect samples of basal ice, sediments, and lake water to explain how relict organic matter deposited during marine incursions influences contemporary biodiversity and carbon cycling and to provide new information on past climatic conditions.

Field Season Overview

Five team members will deploy during the 2017-18 field season. The sediment laboratory will be cleaned to 14C-dating clean specifications, and a sea ice test of the Deep SCINI ROV will be conducted. Time will also be dedicated to education and outreach including filming of the drill preparation and the Deep SCINI ROV sea ice test. One of the deploying grantees shall participate for up to 3 weeks filming the traverse from Camp20 to SLM as the traverse field team stages containers at SLM for use during the 2018-19 season.

Deploying Team Members

  • Justin Burnett
  • William Collins
  • John Priscu (PI)
  • Ryan Venturelli
  • Robert Zook