Collaborative research: acoustic logging of the WAIS Divide borehole

Project: Research project

Project Details



This award supports a project to test the hypothesis that abrupt changes in fabric exist and are associated with both climate transitions and volcanic eruptions. It requires depth-continuous measurements of the fabric. By lowering a new logging tool into the WAIS Divide borehole after the completion of the core drilling, this project will measure acoustic-wave speeds as a function of depth and interpret it in terms of ice fabrics. This interpretation will be guided by ice-core-measured fabrics at sparse depths. This project will apply established analytical techniques for the ice-sheet logging and estimate depth profiles of both compressional- and shear-wave speeds at short intervals (~ 1 m). Previous logging projects measured only compressional-wave speeds averaged over typically 5-7 m intervals. Thus the new logger will enable more precise fabric interpretations. Fabric measurements using thin sections have revealed distinct fabric patterns separated by less than several meters; fabric measurements over a shorter period are crucial. At the WAIS Divide borehole, six two-way logging runs will be made with different observational parameters so that multiple wave-propagation modes will be identified, yielding estimates of both compressional- and shear-wave speeds. Each run takes approximately 24 hours to complete; we propose to occupy the boreholes in total eight days. The logging at WAIS Divide is temporarily planned in December 2011, but the timing is not critical. This project?s scope is limited to the completion of the logging and fabric interpretations. Results will be immediately shared with other WAIS Divide researchers. Direct benefits of this data sharing include guiding further thin-section analysis of the fabric, deriving a precise thinning function that retrieves more accurate accumulation history and depth-age scales. The PIs of this project have conducted radar and seismic surveys in this area and this project will provide a ground truth for these regional remote-sensing assessments of the ice interior. In turn, these remote sensing means can extend the results from the borehole to larger parts of the central West Antarctica. This project supports education for two graduate students for geophysics, glaciology, paleoclimate, and polar logistics. The instrument that will be acquired in this project can be used at other boreholes for ice-fabric characterizations and for englacial hydrology (wetness of temperate ice).

Effective start/end date9/15/108/31/16


  • National Science Foundation: $164,474.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.