Sunday, November 4, 2007

ANDRILL SMS has started

The Antarctic geological Drilling program (ANDRILL) is currently drilling in southern McMurdo Sound (SMS) in pursuit of an ice-proximal record of the middle Miocene transition and climate optimum. The drillrig is situated on a sea ice platform. Read weekly science updates at the ANDRILL website here..

Sunday, October 28, 2007

From wet-based to dry-based Antarctic glaciation at 13.94 Ma

In the November issue of GSA Bulletin, Lewis et al. report on till stratigraphy constrained by Ar/Ar ages of volcanic ash from the Olympus Range in the Dry Valleys. According to the article till generated by wet-based glaciers is older than sublimation till from dry-based glaciers nearby. The ages on the ashes are used to determine the age of the transition.
Read the abstract here...
Photo: Adam Lewis

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ANDRILL MIS in Geotimes

An article discussing the drilling technology and preliminary scientific results of the McMurdo Ice Shelf drilling of ANDRILL can be found in the printed issue of Geotimes. Currently ANDRILL is drilling a second hole in Southern McMurdo Sound. Check for science updates (from Oct. 15 approximately).


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Apply to sail on IODP Wilkes Land Margin

Application to sail can now be submitted for the IODP expedition to the Wilkes Land Margin. The application deadline is November 30, 2007. For more information see here

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Antarctic biota survived over tens of millions of years

Pete Convey and Mark Stevens review evidence of survival of Antarctic biota over the past tens of millions of years, implying that ice-free refugia must have existed. These studies highlight a possible mismatch between ice-sheet modeling and terrestrial evidence. The article can be found in Science at

Sunday, September 2, 2007

IODP Wilkes Land margin approved for 2009

The International Polar Year 2007-2009 is enriched with another great project now that the Intergrated Ocean Drilling Program has scheduled an expedition to the Wilkes Land margin for January-March 2009.
For more details on this Leg see here

Image: Ocean Drilling Program

Friday, August 24, 2007

Northern Hemisphere forcing of the last 4 deglaciations

A study of the Fuji Dome and Vostok ice cores published in Nature shows that orbital-scale Antarctic climate change lags Northern Hemisphere insolation by a few thousand years since at least 360,000 years ago. Find the first paragraph of the article here.

Eocene bi-polar glaciation and the CCD

An article published in Nature by Edgar et al. discusses the link between the development of the cryosphere and the large changes in the CCD in the late Eocene. Find the link to the first paragraph here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Microbes in 8 million year old ice from Beacon Valley

A team of molecular biologists and geologists claim they have found 8 million year old microbes embedded in buried glacier ice they collected in Beacon Valley, Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Bidle and others pulished their finding in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For more info see news article here ...
or the full open access article here...

Image: Bidle et al., PNAS.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Antarctic circumpolar current developed in the Late Oligocene

In a recent issue of the journal Geology Lyle et al. present new sediment core data suggesting that deep flow in the South Atlantic ocean started as late as the late Oligocene. The Antarctic circumpolar current was thought to have thermally isolated Antarctica in the Eocene, so that an ice sheet could develop. Recent modeling studies, however, suggested that the story is more complex. Lyle et al. explain that shallow circulation may have existed earlier than the late Oligocene as indicated by Nd isotope studies, but that deep flow with vertical mixing was established by 23-25 Ma. These findings have consequences for studies of the evolutionary biology of the region as well. For more information read the abstract here

Image: NASA

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Publication started of online proceedings for the 10th ISAES 2007

The 10th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences has freely accessible online proceedings. Publication has started and will continue until the start of the symposium 26 August-31 August 2007 in Santa Barbara. Two types of contributions are available: 4-5 page peer-reviewed Short Research Papers and Extended Abstracts (not peer-reviewed). Click here to connect to the online proceedings.

Photo: Sandra Passchier, courtesy National Science Foundation

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

West Antarctic Ice Sheet existed more than 25 million years ago

A recent article in the journal Geology by Sorlien et al., reports on interpretations of seismic data that indicate that ice was draining into the eastern Ross Sea from Mary Byrd Land as early as the Oligocene.

For more information see the press release here or read the abstract here.

Photo: Bruce Luyendyk

Monday, June 11, 2007

New-Generation Polar Research Symposium

The New-Generation Polar Research Symposium will be held May 4-11, 2008at La Foret Conference Center in Colorado Springs, CO. For more information visit the conference website at:

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Antarctic glaciers accelerate as climate warms

Satellite data indicates that hundreds of glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula are flowing faster than expected. Faster ice drainage leads to sea level rise, a major concern for low-lying coastal areas elsewhere. Authors Pritchard and Vaughan published an article on this topic in the Journal of Geophysical Research last week. More in:
Press Release British Antarctic Survey

Photo: British Antarctic Survey

Scientists prepare for 2007 ANDRILL season

After a successful drilling season in 2006, preparations for the upcoming season of the Antarctic Drilling Program (ANDRILL) are underway. In Fall 2007 ANDRILL plans to drill a deep hole through sedimentary strata in southern McMurdo Sound. On-ice scientists from the United States, New Zealand, Italy and Germany currently go through extensive medical and dental exams. McMurdo station, where most scientists will be stationed, has limited medical facilities. More about ANDRILL..

Photo: Sandra Passchier, courtesy NSF

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Geologists complete second field season on James Ross Island

From January until March 2007 british geologists were carrying out field work in their second field season on James Ross Island near the Antarctic Peninsula. Their objective was to study sedimentary rocks from the Neogene period (between 2 and 24 million years old). These rocks originated during a time when climatic conditions were similar to those projected for the future. More at Visit and Learn... or in an article on their previous field season in Geology Today...

Photo: British Antarctic Survey

Friday, March 30, 2007

Antarctic Climate Evolution research in Nature

At the start of the International Polar Year 2007-08, two news reports in Nature of March 7th highlighted Antarctic drilling activities. One article discusses the results of the Antarctic Drilling Program (ANDRILL), that penetrated more than 1200 m into the layers of the seabed, extracting a geological archive extending more than 5 millions years back in time. The second article is an account of the preparations for ice coring into the East Antarctic ice sheet at Dome Argus. The latter project aims to acquire a detailed climate record from annual layers of ice over the past 1.5 million years. More at

Photo: Sandra Passchier, courtesy NSF