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

Project Title

Ice dynamics at the intersection of the West and East Antarctic Ice Sheets

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I-175-M/S Research Location(s): Hercules Dome


Event Number:
NSF/OPP Award 1744649

Program Manager:
Dr. Paul Cutler

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Bija Sass / Timothy Ager / Neal Scheibe

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Knut A Christianson
University of Washington
Earth and Space Sciences
Seattle, Washington


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: Hercules Dome


Researchers will use ground-based ice-penetrating radar to survey the stratigraphy and bed topography at Hercules Dome and infer changes in ice dynamics and ice-sheet elevation. The work will help determine past ice-sheet changes that may relate to collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and may verify existence of a Raymond Bump and internal stratigraphy that could help determine whether this site is suitable for a deep ice-core drilling project.

Field Season Overview

Four team members will deploy to McMurdo Station this austral summer. After checking out their gear, they will move to South Pole Station, where they will prepare their equipment while acclimatizing to the altitude at South Pole. They will then deploy by LC-130 aircraft to their Hercules Dome field site, where they will reside at a field camp for four weeks. The group will operate in teams of two and will drive snowmobiles towing radar equipment along transects to perform their surveys. The research team will use deep-sounding radar, shallow-sounding radar, and phase-sensitive radar. They will drive about 25 miles of transects per day and up to 500 miles over the season. The group will also conduct GPS surveys and establish a grid of coordinates with physical markers. Camp pull-out will be by LC-130 aircraft between McMurdo Station and the field site.

Deploying Team Members

  • Knut Christianson (PI)
  • Tyler Fudge (Co-PI)
  • Nicholas Holschuh
  • Eric Steig (Co-PI)