Start date:
Instruments operate year-round.
Lake Fryxell, Wright Valley
Principle Investigator:
John Gillies
Desert Research Institute
The spatial and temporal patterns of aeolian transport in the McMurdo Dry Valleys are not well understood. In particular, the magnitude and frequency of sediment transport events, the differences between the summer and winter transport regimes, and the flux rates of wind-blown sand are not established. In addition, it is unknown whether the aeolian gravel ripple bedforms in the Dry Valleys are current or relict forms. This project will conduct two, process-based experiments and accompanying morphometric analyses to answer these questions. Researchers will establish sediment-transport measurement systems at four locations in the Victoria, Taylor, and Wright valleys to quantify sediment transport frequency and magnitude. The research team will begin a study designed to quantify the movement rate and form change of very coarse gravel megaripples in the Wright Valley.

This work has been recently published in Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface:

Gillies, J.A., W.G. Nickling, M. Tilson, and E. Furtak-Cole (2012). Wind-formed Gravel Bed Forms, Wright Valley, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, 117: F04017, doi: 10.1029/2012JF002378.
Gillies, J.A., W.G. Nickling, and M. Tilson (2013). Frequency, magnitude and characteristics of aeolian sediment transport: McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, doi: 10.1029/2012JF002473.

In the third season we will: 1) download the collected data and collect the sediment in the traps. At each of our sediment transport measurement sites at four locations in three of the Dry Valleys (Victoria, Taylor and Wright); 2) remove instrumentation at each of the four sites and retro instruments and supporting hardware back to the U.S.; and 3) map the tracer movements at the coarse gravel megaripples; 4) Collect sediment and then remove traction load samplers.