Laser Dust Logging of a South Pole Ice Core
This award supports the deployment and analysis of data from an oriented laser dust logger in the South Pole ice core borehole to complement study of the ice core record. Before the core is even processed, data from the borehole probe will immediately determine the depth-age relationship, augment 3D mapping of South Pole stratigraphy, aid in searches for the oldest ice in Antarctica, and reveal layers of volcanic or extraterrestrial fallout. Regarding the intellectual merit, the oriented borehole log will be essential for investigating features in the ice sheet that may have implications for ice core chronology, ice flow, ice sheet physical properties and stability in response to climate change. The tools and techniques developed in this program have applications in glaciology, biogeoscience and exploration of other planetary bodies. The program aims for a deeper understanding of the consequences and causes of abrupt climate change. The broader impacts of the project are that it will include outreach and education, providing a broad training ground for students and post-docs. Data and metadata will be made available through data centers and repositories such as the National Snow and Ice Data Center web portal.
The laser dust logger detects reproducible paleoclimate features at sub-centimeter depth scale. Dust logger data are being used for synchronizing records and dating any site on the continent, revealing accumulation anomalies and episodes of rapid ice sheet thinning, and discovering particulate horizons of special interest. In this project we will deploy a laser dust logger equipped with a magnetic compass to find direct evidence of preferentially oriented dust. Using optical scattering measurements from IceCube calibration studies at South Pole and borehole logs at WAIS Divide, we have detected a persistent anisotropy correlated with flow and crystal fabric which suggests that the majority of insoluble particulates must be located within ice grains. With typical concentrations of parts-per-billion, little is known about the location of impurities within the polycrystalline structure of polar ice. While soluble impurities are generally thought to concentrate at inter-grain boundaries and determine electrical conductivity, the fate of insoluble particulates is much less clear, and microscopic examinations are extremely challenging. These in situ borehole measurements will help to unravel intimate relationships between impurities, flow, and crystal fabric. Data from this project will further develop a unique record of South Pole surface roughness as a proxy for paleowind and provide new insights for understanding glacial radar propagation. This project has field work in Antarctica.
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