Start date:
October 2015
End date:
December 2015
Pearse Valley, Sollas Glacier, Lake Joyce, Rhone Glacier, Stocking Glacier, Taylor Valley, Wright Valley
Principle Investigator:
Dr. Kate Swanger
University of Massachusetts
Rock glaciers are common in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, but they are concentrated in a few isolated regions: western Taylor Valley, western Wright Valley, Pearse Valley and Bull Pass. The researchers hypothesize that the origin and age of these features varies by region: that rock glaciers in Pearse and Taylor valley originated as buried glacier ice, whereas rock glaciers in Wright Valley formed through permafrost processes, such as mobilization of ice-rich talus. These hypotheses are born out of previous research demonstrating regional-scale variability in the sediment-ice ratio of rock-glacier cores and stratigraphic relationships between rock glaciers and alpine glaciers. To address these hypotheses, the researchers propose to: (1) Develop relative and absolute chronologies for the studied rock glaciers (through file mapping and optically stimulated luminescence dating of overlying sediments); (2) Assess the origin of clean-ice cores through stable isotopic analyses; (3) Determine if present-day soil-moisture and temperature conditions are conducive to rock glacier formation/preservation, and; (4) Investigate whether the hypothesized glacigenic rock glaciers are in equilibrium with present-day climate. To achieve these research goals, researchers will incorporate geomorphic mapping, sedimentology, geochemical analyses, and geophysical techniques