2023-2024 Science Planning Summary
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2023-2024 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

A comprehensive seismic investigation to the crust and uppermost mantle beneath the South Pole, East Antarctica

Photo by Jon Master, courtesy of NSF/USAP Photo Library
G-298-M/S Research Location(s): South Pole Station


Event Number:
NSF / OPP Award 2145410

Program Director:
Dr. Michael Jackson

ASC POC/Implementer:
Paul Sullivan / Sheryl Seagraves / Leah Street / Leslie Blank

Principal Investigator(s)

Mr. Weisen Shen
State University of New York Stony Brook


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


Being geographically significant, the area within 300km of the South Pole (SPS) and its sub-ice structures are equally, if not more, critical in studying Antarctic earth sciences. Given its gateway locality between the high southern Transantarctic Mountains (STAM) and East Antarctic craton, the area is critical for studying geological history and modern tectonism of the continent, modeling its continental dynamics, and developing more accurate ice sheet dynamic models to predict their response to the global climate change. This significance, however, is contrasted by the lack of direct knowledge of the sub-ice structure, owning to its remoteness and 3km ice cover, calling for a comprehensive study to fill this knowledge gap.

Field Season Overview

This project deploys seismic instruments up to 240km from South Pole Station (SPS) during three field seasons (2023-24, 2024-25 & 2025-26). Eight broadband systems (BB) will be deployed for the duration of the project, complemented by up to 186 seismic nodes which will be deployed for about 30 days each season. Should additional longer-duration nodes become available, extended deployments of them, for up to 60 days, will be considered, subject to logistical supportability to deploy them. The science team will initially stage at McMurdo Station (McM) before deploying on to SPS. The majority of the sites (5 BBs and 150 nodes) are to be located within 120 kilometers of the SPS. These nodes are to be spaced 3km apart. Current intentions are to visit these locations via wheeled trucks originating from SPS.

Deploying Team Members

  • Thomas Reilly
  • Weisen Shen (PI)
  • Siyuan Sui