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

Project Title

Remote characterization of microbial mats in Taylor Valley, Antarctica, through in-situ sampling and spectral validation

Investigating the signatures of microbial mats from orbit using satellite imagery and spectral unmixing.
B-235-M Research Location(s): Lake Fryxell


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Jennifer Burns / Dr. Christian Fritsen

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Jennifer Blum

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Mark Robert Salvatore
Flagstaff, Arizona


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Lake Fryxell


Microbial mats are pervasive throughout the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Recent technological advances in remote sensing allow detailed characterization of unique spectral signatures associated with microbial mats at higher spatial resolution than before. These advances may enable Antarctic microbial mat features to be mapped and characterized from satellites. Researchers will use satellite imagery and spectroscopic techniques to identify and map microbial mat communities across the landscape and relate their spectral properties and distributions to both field and lab-based measurements. They aim to document the spatial and temporal distributions of a major component of the Antarctic terrestrial ecosystem in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

Field Season Overview

A team of three will work at Lake Fryxell camp and will sample primarily from Canada Stream. Additional sampling sites may include Huey, Green, and McKnight Creeks, Delta and Crescent Streams, and Relict Channel. They will access all sampling sites by foot or by helicopter. The team will establish study plots and will coordinate with the Polar Geospatial Center to synchronize satellite image captures with their sampling efforts. They will collect microbial mat, soil, and water samples, and will take spectral measurements. The team will also conduct one to two mid-season trips to Crary Laboratory for sample processing. Following pull-out from Lake Fryxell camp, they will spend a week in the lab packing samples for shipment.

Deploying Team Members

  • Mark Salvatore (PI)