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

Project Title

Long-term sublimation/preservation of two separate, buried glacier ice masses, Ong Valley, southern Transantarctic Mountains

no photo available


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Douglas Kowalewski

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Leslie Blank

Principal Investigator

Dr. Jaakko Putkonen

University of North Dakota
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Grand Forks, North Dakota


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Ong Valley


The science goal of this event is to firmly establish ages of the thinly buried ice deposits in Ong Valley and the rate at which they sublimate. Collected samples will undergo testing for cosmogenic nuclide concentrations, both in the glacial till and in the embedded mineral matter suspended in the ice cores. If the ice deposits turn out to be millions of years old, the science team has the potential to study atmospheric chemistry, life forms, and geology in much older ice than is currently available.

Field Season Overview

During the course of approximately four weeks, a seven-person field team, including one Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDDO) driller, will work from a satellite camp in the Ong Valley located approximately 200 nm from Shackleton Camp. The team will core through the one meter thick glacial till to collect cores of the ice buried below. They will drill six 10-meter cores including three holes drilled at each of two sites in Ong Valley. The Ice Drilling Program Office (IDPO) and IDDO will provide the drilling equipment and one driller. ASC will provide six drums of Isopar K for drilling operations.

LC-130s will transport the field team, drilling equipment, camp gear, bulk fuel and retrograde samples between McMurdo Station and Shackleton Camp. A Twin Otter will be used to stage the drill and field gear at the Argosy Landing Area near the Ong Valley sites which are only accessible by helicopter. Helicopter support will be utilized to move the gear and people between the Argosy Landing Area and the Ong Valley sites and to reposition the drill at a second site midway through the field season. Ice cores collected at the first drill site will be returned to the Shackleton Camp following the completion of the drill move.

Ice cores will be stored in snow caves at the drill sites and at Shackleton Camp. All cores will be moved by one LC-130 cold deck from Shackleton Camp to McMurdo and will be returned to the US on the USAP cargo vessel and then delivered to the home institutions.

Deploying Team Members

  • Gregory Balco (Co-PI)
  • Grant Boeckmann
  • Daniel Morgan (Co-PI)
  • Daniel Morgan (Co-PI)
  • Jaakko Putkonen (PI)