2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
2018-2019 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

GPS station located on the ~1000m thick ice over Subglacial Lake Mercer (SLM). 
Photo by: Matthew Siegfried, Stanford University.
C-534-M Research Location(s): Whillans Ice Plain


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Dean Einerson / Matthew Kippenhan

Principal Investigator(s)

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

Several members of the drill team (McManis, T-524-M) will assist ASC staff with preparations and loading of equipment to the launch and recovery system (LARS) deck, including the Submersible Capable of under Ice Navigation and Imaging (SCINI) winch, prior to the traverse departure. Upon establishing the SALSA field camp at SLM, science personnel and drillers will fly to the camp by mid December to open laboratories, set up drilling equipment, and coordinate the start of the hot water drilling operations. The remaining science team members will arrive several days later to begin sampling SLM once the borehole is completed. Science personnel will collect and prepare ice, water, and sediment samples for shipment to the United States. Outreach personnel will film and photograph all aspects of the SALSA season. Borehole operations will continue into early January until camp close out begins.

Deploying Team Members

  • Joel Barker
  • Justin Burnett
  • Tim Campbell
  • Brent Christner (Co-PI)
  • William Collins
  • Cynthia Dean
  • John Dore (Co-PI)
  • Alan Gagnon
  • Christopher Gardner
  • Christopher Gardner
  • David Harwood (Co-PI)
  • Kathryn Kasic
  • Peter Kibler
  • Amy Leventer (Co-PI)
  • Wei Li
  • Alexander Michaud
  • Molly Patterson
  • John Priscu (PI)
  • Brad Rosenheim (Co-PI)
  • Mark Skidmore (Co-PI)
  • Martyn Tranter
  • Ryan Venturelli
  • Trista Vick
  • John Winans
  • Robert Zook