Project Information
Investigating (Un)Stable Sliding of Whillians Ice Stream and Subglacial Water Dynamics Using Borehole Seismology: A Proposed Component of WISSARD
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This award provides support for "Investigating (Un)Stable Sliding of Whillans Ice Stream and Subglacial Water Dynamics Using Borehole Seismology: A proposed Component of the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access and Research Drilling" from the Antarctic Integrated Systems Science (AISS) program in the Office of Polar Programs at NSF. The project will use the sounds naturally produced by the ice and subglacial water to understand the glacial dynamics of the Whillans Ice Stream located adjacent to the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

Intellectual Merit: The transformative component of the project is that in addition to passive surface seismometers, the team will deploy a series of borehole seismometers. Englacial placement of the seismometers has not been done before, but is predicted to provide much better resolution (detection of smaller scale events as well as detection of a much wider range of frequencies) of the subglacial dynamics. In conjunction with the concurrent WISSARD (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access and Research Drilling) project the team will be able to tie subglacial processes to temporal variations in ice stream dynamics and mass balance of the ice stream. The Whillans Ice Stream experiences large changes in ice velocity in response to tidally triggered stick-slip cycles as well as periodic filling and draining of subglacial Lake Whillans. The overall science goals include: improved understanding of basal sliding processes and role of sticky spots, subglacial lake hydrology, and dynamics of small earthquakes and seismic properties of ice and firn.

Broader Impact: Taken together, the research proposed here will provide information on basal controls of fast ice motion which has been recognized by the IPCC as necessary to make reliable predictions of future global sea-level rise. The information collected will therefore have broader implications for global society. The collected information will also be relevant to a better understanding of earthquakes. For outreach the project will work with the overall WISSARD outreach coordinator to deliver information to three audiences: the general public, middle school teachers, and middle school students. The project also provides funding for training of graduate students, and includes a female principal investigator.
Person Role
Schwartz, Susan Investigator
Tulaczyk, Slawek Co-Investigator
Antarctic Integrated System Science Award # 1043784
AMD - DIF Record(s)
Data Management Plan
None in the Database
Product Level:
Not provided
Repository Title (link) Format(s) Status
IRIS PASSCAL experiment 201205 (full data link not provided) None exist
  1. Barcheck, G., Brodsky, E. E., Fulton, P. M., King, M. A., Siegfried, M. R., & Tulaczyk, S. (2021). Migratory earthquake precursors are dominant on an ice stream fault. Science Advances, 7(6), eabd0105. (doi:10.1126/sciadv.abd0105)
  2. Fisher, A. T., Mankoff, K. D., Tulaczyk, S. M., Tyler, S. W., & Foley, N. (2015). High geothermal heat flux measured below the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Science Advances, 1(6), e1500093. (doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500093)
  3. Barcheck, C. G., Tulaczyk, S., Schwartz, S. Y., Walter, J. I., & Winberry, J. P. (2018). Implications of basal micro-earthquakes and tremor for ice stream mechanics: Stick-slip basal sliding and till erosion. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 486, 54–60. (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2017.12.046)
Platforms and Instruments

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