Investigation of the Glacial History of the Siple Coast Using Radar-Detected Internal Layers and the Ice Core from Siple Dome
This award supports a project to improve understanding of post-glacial retreat and thinning of the Siple Coast region. Research has shown how age-depth relationships from ice cores can be extrapolated over wide areas by tracking continuous radar layers. By comparing radar-derived timescales with one from a model of ice- flow, glacial conditions over regional scales were inferred. High-resolution radar profiles have been collected across most of the inter-stream ridges in the Siple Coast region, and an age- depth relationship has been established from the Siple Dome ice core. Application of the techniques used by others is problematic because the ice streams that surround Siple Dome have disrupted the continuity of the internal layers. A specific goal of this project is to search for other less direct ways to match radar layers between unconnected profiles. The correspondence between radar reflections and measurements of electrical conductivity and volcanic sulfates along the Siple Dome core will be investigated. The strategy is to search for distinctive patterns in the echoes that will facilitate layer matching. Preliminary results are encouraging: at least four distinct echoes at Siple Dome can be matched to spikes in the conductivity profile and the signature of one (at 210m depth, which is ~1,800 yrs BP) closely resembles that of a layer at ~200m on Ridge BC. Matching layers (and hence timescales) across the ice streams will allow reconstruction of spatial patterns of past flow, thinning and accumulation rate in the Siple Coast region, which is needed to predict future possible changes of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Data necessary for the proposed work are already available; additional fieldwork in Antarctica is not required. The project will take two years to complete and will provide core education for a doctoral student in Earth and Space Sciences, with an emphasis on radioglaciology.
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