Start date:
Mid October
End date:
Mid December
Dry Valleys, Taylor Valley, Lake Fryxell, Lake Bonney, Lake Hoare
Principle Investigator:
Dr. Slawek M Tulaczyk
University of California Santa Cruz
In Antarctica, millions of years of freezing have led to the development of hundreds of meters of permafrost. This slow freezing has trapped and concentrated water into local and regional briny aquifers that are many times saltier than seawater. Such unusual groundwater systems may support microbial life, supply nutrients to coastal ocean and ice-covered lakes, and influence glacier motion. These briny aquifers also represent potential terrestrial analogs for deep life habitats on other planets, such as Mars, and provide a testing ground for the search for extraterrestrial water. This project will reveal if cold polar deserts hide a subsurface pool of liquid water. This will have significant implications for understanding cold polar glaciers, ice-covered lakes, frozen ground, polar microbiology, and for predictions of their responses to future change.
This is the first of two seasons for this Dry Valleys geophysics team. Four participants will work out of fixed camps at Lake Fryxell, Lake Bonney and Lake Hoare to conduct ground-based electromagnets (GEM) and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys. A fifth participant will coordinate deployment to work with collaborator Peter Doran’s LTER group (1637708/C-511) for soil sample collection. There are ten identified work locations that have been prioritized into three groups from highest (P1) to lowest (P3) priorities; locations will be accessed on foot and by helicopter. Helicopter support is also required for camp put-ins, pull-outs, and camp moves. Field Safety Coordinator support will be provided for some locations. PI Slawomir Tulaczyk will deploy slightly earlier to work with Blackburn (1644171/G-167), a project in which he is the co-PI, then will transfer to C-516.