Collaborative Research: Systematic Analysis of Landscape Evolution and Surface Ages in Transantarctic Mountains
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). The proposed project will investigate the coldest and driest parts of the Transantarctic Mountains (Ong Valley at Nimrod Glacier and Moraine Canyon at Amundsen Glacier) where the lack of running water and biological activity in the modern environment is thought to have preserved the landscape, essentially unchanged, for millions of years. Contrary to this common belief, it is hypothesized that the landscape does evolve, perhaps as fast as many surfaces in the Dry Valleys area where both loose soil and bedrock surfaces have been degrading at a rate of about 1-2 m/Myrs for the past several million years. The research team will rely on analysis of the both stable and radioactive cosmogenic isotopes that accumulate in near surface soil and bedrock. Collectively these measurements allow comparison of the long term landscape evolution to current processes and environmental drivers such as wind speed. The results of this work will improve understanding of the evolution of the Earth's surface and directly aid in evaluating imagery of Martian geomorphology. Continued reliance on students provides a broader impact to this proposed research and firmly grounds this effort in its educational mission.
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