2008 Expedition You can also read Jackie's journals from her expedition in 2008, also with Dr. Marchant here.

What Are They Doing?

Setting up a drill site in the Dry Valleys, AntarcticaSetting up a drill site in the Dry Valleys, Antarctica A small team of earth scientists and engineers used a specialized drill to reach buried ice deposits in the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica. Stagnant and/or slow moving debris-covered glaciers may contain ice several million years in age. By comparison, the oldest ice yet cored from the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is approximately 1 million years old. As a result, these buried ice deposits hold an ancient archive of Earth's past atmospheric conditions. Each ice core enabled the research team to gain access to a reliable record of atmospheric and climatic change extending back for many millions of years, making it by far the oldest ice yet known on this planet.

In addition to drilling for ancient ice, the team worked in the Dry Valleys to seek a better understanding of surface processes that play a critical role in maintaining and/or modifying buried glacier ice. Despite their age and potential to register long-term climate change, there has been surprisingly little research on the geologic and geomorphologic processes that both preserve and modify debris-covered glaciers in Antarctica. In addition, the cold polar desert of the Dry Valleys is one of the most Mars-like climatic environments and landscapes on Earth, serving as a proxy for very ancient ice buried on Mars and providing insight into Martian history and the potential for life on Mars.

Where Are They?

Beacon Valley, AntarcticaBeacon Valley, Antarctica The team flew to McMurdo Station on a C-17 aircraft and then to various field sites within the Dry Valleys via helicopter. Transportation around field sites was on foot, up to 8 miles per day. The field sites were rustic with each individual sharing a Scott tent for sleeping and all members sharing a dedicated cook tent for meals.

The McMurdo Dry Valleys are located on the western coast of McMurdo Sound and form the largest relatively ice-free area on the Antarctic continent. The perennially ice-covered lakes, frozen alpine glaciers, and extensive areas of exposed soil and permafrost within the McMurdo Dry Valleys are subject to low temperatures, limited snowfall, and salt accumulation.

Expedition Map

Expedition Resources

Project Information

Dates: 15 November 2012 to 20 December 2012
Location: Beacon Valley, Quartermain Mountains and McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica
Project Funded Title: Quantifying surface processes above buried ice in Antarctica: Implications for terrestrial climate change and glaciation on Mars
Related Expeditions: Ancient Buried Ice in Antarctica


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Meet the Team

Jacquelyn Hams's picture
Los Angeles Valley College
Valley Glen, CA
United States

Jacquelyn (Jackie) Hams is an Associate Professor of Earth Science at Los Angeles Valley Community College, where she teaches Physical Geology, Introduction to Oceanography, Environmental Science, and Planetary Science to many first generation college students. Ms. Hams has a scientific background in environmental and subsurface investigations in terrestrial and marine environments and experience working with Fortune 100 companies as an environmental consultant and as a petroleum geologist. Ms. Hams holds a Master's degree in Geology and enjoys sailing and outdoor photography.

Dave Marchant's picture
Boston University
Boston, MA
United States

Dr. Dave Marchant has led 21 field expeditions to Antarctica. His research interests are in the fields of glacial and periglacial geomorphology, global climate change, and planetary geology. In his research, he links traditional geomorphic field observations in ice-free areas of the continent with state-of-the-art geophysical, remote sensing, and dating techniques. Dr. Marchant is currently the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Earth Sciences at Boston University. You can read more about Dr. Marchant and his research here [http://people.bu.edu/marchant/research/buriedice.html]