2022-2023 Science Planning Summary
United States Antarctic Program United States Antarctic Program Logo National Science Foundation Logo
Read the latest information from NSF on coronavirus (COVID-19)
2022-2023 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

COLDEX - Airborne Geophysics Survey- East Antarctic Plateau (EAP)

A Basler lands at South Pole Station. Photo by Danny Hampton. Image courtesy of NSF/USAP Photo Library. Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 courtesy of the USAP Photo Library.
I-185-M/S Research Location(s): McMurdo Station; South Pole


Event Number:
NSF / OPP Award 2019719

Program Director:
Dr. Kelly Brunt

ASC POC/Implementer:
Judy Shiple / Jenny Cunningham / Paul Sullivan / Sheryl Seagraves / Matthew Kippenhan

Principal Investigator(s)

Dr. Edward Jeremy Brook
Oregon State University
College of Oceanic & Atmospheric Sciences


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: McMurdo Station; South Pole


The Center for OLDest Ice EXploration (COLDEX) will address fundamental questions critical to understanding past and future climate change, including sensitivity to higher levels of greenhouse gases, the role of greenhouse gases in the evolution of ice age cycles, and the behavior of the Antarctic ice sheet in warmer climates. This element of COLDEX provides Basler-supported airborne radar echo sounding, gravity and magnetic surveys of the East Antarctic plateau between South Pole Station and Dome A that will locate and characterize potential deep ice sites for later ground-based investigation. The airborne survey spans two deployment seasons, the first encompassing a broad survey (15 km line spacing) from the Pole region to approximately 800 km distance toward Dome A, and the second involving a more detailed survey of two or three smaller regions chosen from the broad survey area. The ultimate goal of this airborne survey and follow-on ground-based investigation is to identify a location for a deep ice core to be drilled during COLDEX Phase II.

Field Season Overview

Seven scientists will work from Crary Lab and a science tent at Williams Field for approximately three to four weeks to set up survey equipment on a dedicated Basler and conduct three test flights of five to six hours and ranging up to 800 km from McMurdo Station. Following the McMurdo-area test flights, five of the seven participants deploy to South Pole Station (SPS) for four weeks to conduct 15 survey missions within 800 km of SPS in the direction of Dome A. Installed survey instruments include the new COLDEX UHF ice penetrating radar, the UTIG VHF ice penetrating radar, an existing KU snow radar, a GT-Z gravimeter, a magnetometer, and a laser altimeter, along with complementary GPS systems. Survey missions will be five to six hours in duration, requiring two team members onboard the aircraft. Other team members will work from both B2 lab and a science structure at the South Pole Basler parking area for 24-hr data processing operations and trouble shooting. After completion of the survey missions, the team and Basler will return to McMurdo Station for one week to reconfigure the aircraft.

Deploying Team Members

  • Dillon Buhl
  • Gonzalo Echeverry
  • Jamin Greenbaum
  • Shravan Ramakrishna Kaundinya
  • Peter Neff
  • John Paden (Team Leader)
  • Bradley Schroeder
  • Shivangini Singh
  • Duncan Young