Start date:
Mid November
End date:
Late December
Taylor Glacier, Marble Point, Hut Point
Principle Investigator:
Dr Jill Mikucki
Dartmouth College
The McMurdo-SkyTEM project aims to map subsurface resistivity using the Time Domain Electromagnetic (TEM) method, which offers a non-invasive and efficient way to determine the subsurface distribution of water salinity, hydrogeologic connectivity, buried geomorphic surfaces, including buried ice and permafrost extent. A newly developed transient electromagnetic system is ideal for use in Antarctica for distinguishing between high resistivity (glacier ice and bedrock, permafrost) and low resistivity materials (geologic materials that are clay-rich and/or saturated by salty water) to a depth of 300 meters or more. The SkyTEM system can be mounted under a helicopter for an extensive geophysical survey of the McMurdo region to generate three-dimensional maps of subsurface resistivity structure over inaccessible terrain. Despite the high potential for TEM to address important science questions in geobiology and the earth sciences, Heli-borne TEM to date has not been deployed in the polar regions. Thus, researchers propose this effort as a proof-of-concept for the applicability of the TEM method for mapping the conductivity and depth of water and permafrost in Antarctic subglacial and subsurface environments. Prioritized targets include: 1. Taylor Glacier and the Bonney Basin, 2. Hut Point and Peninsula (in the vicinity of McMurdo Station)/Cape Barne marine intrusions, and 3. Marble Point/Fryxell Basin - into the Wright Valley. These three targets represent a range of Antarctic environments and provide data on the validity of this method to the broader scientific community. Researchers selected these targets because there are significant existing background data on each system, and they believe these targets can serve as models for the application of TEM to high-priority science questions in the Antarctic community and beyond. The survey will consist of a sequence of profiles each offset from the other by a spacing of 150-200 meters dependent on the spatial variability of the subsurface. Dense measurements (50-meter line spacing) can be achieved for higher resolution of near surface features; researchers intend to exercise this configuration for mapping the Taylor Glacier terminus.