2019-2020 Science Planning Summaries
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2019-2020 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Stability and instability--records of external drivers and resulting behavior of Thwaites Glacier

Thwaites Offshore Research (THOR) team members process a seafloor core sample from the Amundsen Sea, March 2019.
Photo by: Linda Welzenbach
C-447-N Research Location(s): Amundsen Sea and close to Thwaites Glacier


Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Paul Cutler / Dr. Douglas Kowalewski

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Jamee Johnson / Leslie Blank

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Julia Smith Wellner
University of Houston
Department of Geosciences
Houston, Texas

Dr. Robert Larter
British Antarctic Survey
Cambridge, United Kingdom


Supporting Stations: RV/IB Nathaniel B. Palmer
Research Locations: Amundsen Sea and close to Thwaites Glacier


This project will conduct marine and sub-ice shelf research to: (1) establish boundary conditions seaward of the Thwaites Glacier grounding line; (2) obtain records of past external drivers of glacier change; and (3) determine the history of past changes in grounding-line migration and conditions at the glacier base. These objectives will be achieved through high-resolution geophysical surveys of the seafloor and analysis of sediment cores from the inner shelf seaward of the Thwaites Glacier grounding line. The team will use ship-based equipment and a corer deployed through the ice shelf via hot water drill holes. The results will be incorporated into numerical ocean/ice-sheet models and will improve projections of ice loss and sea-level rise originating from the glacier.

Field Season Overview

The planned cruise will take place on the NBP in early 2020. Thirty-one science days are planned for THOR research in the Amundsen Sea and close to Thwaites Glacier. Work will include seismic data collection, multibeam swath bathymetry, 3.5 kHz profiles, and all types of sediment cores.

Deploying Team Members

  • Rachel Clark
  • Santiago Garcia
  • Alastair Graham (Co-PI)
  • Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand (Co-PI)
  • Kelly Hogan Pires de Matos (Co-PI)
  • Rebecca Hopkins
  • Robert Larter (Co-PI)
  • Asmara Lehrmann
  • Allison Lepp
  • James Marschalek
  • Rebecca Minzoni (Co-PI)
  • Frank Nitsche (Co-PI)
  • Sarah Slack
  • Julia Wellner (PI)