2018-2019 Science Planning Summaries
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2018-2019 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

New constraints on post-glacial rebound and Holocene environmental history along the northern Antarctic Peninsula from raised beaches

Scientist surveying ancient beaches to determine their elevations for the reconstructing of past sea levels.
Photo by: Alexander Simms
G-412-L Research Location(s): Livingston Island (Byers Peninsula)


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Douglas Kowalewski

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Cara Ferrier

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Alexander R Simms
University of California Santa Barbara
Dept. of Geological Sciences
Santa Barbara, California


Supporting Stations: ARSV Laurence M. Gould
Research Locations: Livingston Island (Byers Peninsula)


An indication of accelerated ice loss across Antarctica is the increase in the rate that land is rising across the Antarctic Peninsula, as measured by GPS observations. However, GPS data are limited to the last two decades. Researchers hope to determine how recent observations of uplift compare to the average long-term uplift rate across the peninsula. The team will determine uplift rates over the past 5,000 years by reconstructing past sea levels through use of ground-penetrating radar. The radar data will unveil beach structure including ancient shorelines that can be used to understand further how sea-level rise and past climate changes are recorded in beach deposits. These new records will: (1) help determine natural variability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and relative sea level; (2) provide new insight about uplift and the structure of Earth's interior; and (3) help refine methods used to determine the age of geologic deposits.

Field Season Overview

The team will sail from Punta Arenas, Chile on the ARSV Laurence M. Gould to visit ice-free areas on Byers Peninsula within the South Shetland Islands. They will: (1) collect ground-penetrating radar data across raised beaches; (2) collect cobbles and sands for optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) analysis to obtain the age of the beaches; (3) count ice-rafted debris and determine cobble roundness; (4) collect drone imagery of the raised beaches; and (5) sample historic whale bones from Deception Island to better constrain the radiocarbon reservoir for whale bones.

Deploying Team Members

  • Alexander Simms (PI)