Short Name:
USAP-1443260

Allan HILLs Englacial Site (AHILLES) Selection

Previous work has shown that the Allan Hills Blue Ice Area preserves a continuous climate record that extends back at least 400k years along an ice-flow line. Two kilometers to the east of this flow line, the oldest ice on Earth (~1 million years old) has been found only 120 m below the surface. Meteorites collected in the area are reported to be as old as 1.8 million years, suggesting still older ice may be present. Combined, these data suggest that the Allan Hills area could contain a continuous, well-resolved environmental record spanning at least the last million years. The area has been selected as an upcoming target for the Intermediate Depth Ice Core Drill by the US Ice Core Working Group. The project goal of this project is to select a core site to extract a continuous record of million-year-old ice. Ice-penetrating radar surveys will be used to track outcropping dated radar-detected layers throughout the region. The maps of ice-thickness and isochronous layers will be used to select a potential drill site. Ice cores provide a robust reconstruction of past climate and extending this record beyond 800k years will open new opportunities to study the Earth climate system. The data collected will also be used to investigate bedrock and ice flow conditions that are favorable to the preservation of old ice, which may allow targeted investigation of other blue ice areas in Antarctica. Results from this study will ensure the successful future collection of the oldest, continuous ice core climate record thereby advancing scientific discovery and innovation. The study will also enhance research partnerships and infrastructure by extension of the framework for an "Ice Climate Park" in the Allan Hills at which any interested US or foreign investigator could study continuous climate archives for the past 1+ Ma through the collection of highly accessible, large volume samples from developed ice age and flow maps. UMaine's state-of-th e-art cyber-infrastructure will provide the global community of scientists with fast access to project result. Work will be presented to the public through outreach programs including, but not limited to, school visits, on-site tours, and media releases. Lastly, the project will provide Antarctic fieldwork and research experience for a graduate student and support the career development of two early career scientists.

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