Optical Logging for Dust and Microbes in Boreholes in Glacial Ice
This award supports research in climatology, geosciences, and life in extreme environments to be carried out with a newly developed optical borehole logger. The logger fits into a fluid-filled borehole in glacial ice. It emits light at 370 nm in a horizontal plane in order to probe optical properties of particles embedded in the ice out to several meters from the borehole. After leaving the borehole, the light is partially absorbed and scattered by dust, biomolecules, or microbes. A fraction of the light is scattered back into the borehole and is detected by a system of seven phototubes, each of which collects light with high efficiency in a separate wavelength band. One of them collects light that scatters off of dust and air bubbles without wavelength shift, and serves as a dust logger. The other six are covered with notch filters that measure six different wavelength bands and measure the shape of the fluorescence spectrum of microbes and biomolecules. Thus, the same instrument serves as both a dust logger and a microbe logger. Applications include: 1) Precise chronologies and long-period solar variability. With a resolution of 1 to 2 cm for both GISP2 and Siple Dome, the logger will record annual dust maxima and evaluate claims of modulations of dust concentration with periods ranging from 11 yrs (the solar cycle) to 2300 yrs; 2) Volcanism and age-depth markers. Dozens of volcanic ash bands will be detectable and will serve as primary age-depth markers for other boreholes; 3) Microorganisms and biomolecules. The vertical distribution of living, dormant, and dead microbes can be logged, and searches for archaea and aeolian polyaromatic hydrocarbons can be made. The logging experiments will be carried out at Siple Dome and Dome C in Antarctica and at GISP2 and GRIP in Greenland.
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