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

Project Title

East Antarctic Glacial Landscape Evolution (EAGLE): A study using combined thermochronology, geochronology and provenance analysis

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Douglas Kowalewski

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Leslie Blank

Principal Investigator

Dr. Stuart Nigel Thomson

University of Arizona
Department of Geosciences
Tucson, Arizona


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Shackleton Glacier Camp / Red Raider Rampart / Barnes Peak / The Cloudmaker


The three main objectives of this project are to understand: (1) The chronology of landscape modification of the subglacial landscape of East Antarctica; (2) The tectonic and climatic forcing behind landscape modification; and (3) How the landscape has influenced past ice sheet inception and dynamics. To achieve these objectives, researchers will use records of source region cooling and erosion history contained in detrital mineral grains. These grains, from offshore sediments, were deposited both before and after the onset of Antarctic glaciation 34 million years ago. The team's onshore work will focus on the debated incision history of the large glacial troughs that cut the Transantarctic Mountains, which are now occupied by glaciers draining the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The work will include acquiring several age/elevation transects, apatite 4He/3He thermochronometry, and conducting Pecube thermo-kinematic modeling.

Field Season Overview

Four scientists will deploy from McMurdo to Shackleton Camp for approximately two weeks. They will be supported by an ASC Field Safety and Training (FS&T) mountaineer. The five-member field team will reside at Shackleton Camp and will make helicopter day trips to collect rock samples at two locations: Red Raider Rampart and Barnes Peak & Cloudmaker. The team will collect rock samples along one or more vertical transects and at the base moraine at each location. Six or seven days are required in total for the sampling, including three days at Red Raider Rampart and three or four days at Barnes Peak & Cloudmaker. Given its distance from Shackleton Camp (>100 nm), the Barnes Peak & Cloudmaker location requires fuel caching.

Two alternate sites, Cumulus Hills and Mount White, have been identified in the event that either of the primary sites is inaccessible.

Deploying Team Members

  • Sidney Hemming (Co-PI)
  • Kathy Licht (Co-PI)
  • Peter Reiners (Co-PI)
  • Stuart Thomson (PI)