Short Name:
USAP-1443690

Collaborative Research: Southern Plateau Ice-sheet Characterization and Evolution of the Central Antarctic Plate (SPICECAP)

This study focuses on processing and interpretation of internationally collected aerogeophysical data from the Southern Plateau of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. The data include ice penetrating radar data, laser altimetry, gravity and magnetics. The project will provide information on geological trends under the ice, the topography and character of the ice/rock interface, and the stratigraphy of the ice. The project will also provide baseline site characterization for future drilling. Future drilling sites and deep ice cores for old ice require that the base of the ice sheet be frozen to the bed (i.e. no free water at the interface between rock and ice) and the assessment will map the extent of frozen vs. thawed areas. Specifically, three main outcomes are anticipated for this project. First, the study will provide an assessment of the viability of Titan Dome, a subglacial highland region located near South Pole, as a potential old ice drilling prospect. The assessment will include determining the hydraulic context of the bed by processing and interpreting the radar data, ice sheet mass balance through time by mapping englacial reflectors in the ice and connecting them to ice stratigraphy in the recent South Pole, and ice sheet geometry using laser altimetry. Second, the study will provide an assessment of the geological context of the Titan Dome region with respect to understanding regional geologic boundaries and the potential for bedrock sampling. For these two goals, we will use data opportunistically collected by China, and the recent PolarGAP dataset. Third, the study will provide an assessment of the risk posture for RAID site targeting in the Titan Dome region, and the Dome C region. This will use a high-resolution dataset the team collected previously at Dome C, an area similar to the coarser resolution data collected at Titan Dome, and will enable an understanding of what is missed by the wide lines spacing at Titan Dome. Specifically, we will model subglacial hydrology with and without the high resolution data, and statistically examine the detection of subglacial mountains (which could preserve old ice) and subglacial lakes (which could destroy old ice), as a function of line spacing.

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