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Hydrogeology, Cryosphere, Antarctica, Geophysical surveys, Soil surveys -- Geophysical methods, McMurdo Dry Valleys (Antarctica), Ground penetrating radar


Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is not commonly used to study lake ice, and in general, the ground-based use of radar frequencies greater than 500 MHz in cryosphere geophysics is rare, due to a general interest in deeper stratigraphy and the difficulty of extensive profiling over rough snow surfaces. Our goal was to find further information on the origin of the deposition and formation of intra-ice layers, bottom topography, and subbottom deposits using GPR with pulses centered near 850 MHz on two permanently ice-covered lakes in the Mc- Murdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. The profiles were obtained using a one-person sled operation over Lake Bonney, which is typical of lakes in the region, having an ice thickness that ranges between 3 and 5 m, and Lake Vida, where the maximum ice depth is at least 27 m. Lake Bonney exhibits a semicontinuous sediment horizon at approximately a 2-m depth and several minor horizons. In contrast, Lake Vida contains unconformably eroded and folded continuous reflection horizons, packages of minor horizons between major horizons, evidence of incised fluvial deposition along the bottom, and subbottom penetration of at least 4.5 m in some areas. Where the ice thickness is less than 20 m, the lake is frozen to the bottom. Most horizon waveform phase attributes indicate relatively lower permittivity than in the surrounding matrix. Consequently, we interpreted these strata to be caused by layers of pure ice embedded within a salty and dirty ice matrix, which were formed during minor flooding. These findings supported previous conclusions that Lake Vida ice formed from surface runoff in combination with periods of ablation.


To the best of our knowledge, this work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government.



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