Collaborative Research: Mantle Structure and Dynamics of the Ross Sea from a Passive Seismic Deployment on the Ross Ice Shelf

Project: Research project

Project Details


Intellectual Merit:

The PIs propose to establish an ice shelf network of 18 broadband seismographs deployed for two years to obtain high-resolution, mantle-scale images of Earth structure underlying the Ross Sea Embayment. Prior marine geophysical work provides good crustal velocity models for the region seaward of the ice shelf but mantle structure is constrained by only low-resolution images due to the lack of prior seismic deployments. The proposed stations would be established between Ross Island and Marie Byrd Land. These stations would fill a major geological gap within this extensional continental province and would link data sets collected in the Transantarctic Mountain transition/Plateau region (TAMSEIS) and in West Antarctica (POLENET) to improve resolution of mantle features beneath Antarctica. The proposed deployment would allow the PIs to collect seismic data without the expense, logistical complexity, and iceberg hazards associated with ocean bottom seismograph deployments. Tomographic models developed from the proposed data will be used to choose between competing models for the dynamics of the Ross Sea. In particular, the PIs will investigate whether a broad region of hot mantle, including the Eastern Ross Sea, indicates distributed recent tectonic activity, which would call into question models proposing that Eastern Ross extension ceased during the Mesozoic. These data will also allow the PIs to investigate the deeper earth structure to evaluate the possible role of mantle plumes and/or small-scale convection in driving regional volcanism and tectonism across the region.

Broader impacts:

Data from this deployment will be of broad interdisciplinary use. This project will support three graduate and two undergraduate students. At least one student will be an underrepresented minority student. The PIs will interact with the media and include K-12 educators in their fieldwork.

Effective start/end date9/1/138/31/18


  • National Science Foundation: $266,099.00


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