Physical properties of the WAIS divide ice core

Joan J. Fitzpatrick, Donald E. Voigt, John M. Fegyveresi, Nathan T. Stevens, Matthew K. Spencer, Jihong Cole-Dai, Richard B. Alley, Gabriella E. Jardine, Eric D. Cravens, Lawrence A. Wilen, T. J. Fudge, Joseph R. McConnell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The WAIS (West Antarctic Ice Sheet) Divide deep ice core was recently completed to a total depth of 3405 m, ending ∼50m above the bed. Investigation of the visual stratigraphy and grain characteristics indicates that the ice column at the drilling location is undisturbed by any large-scale overturning or discontinuity. The climate record developed from this core is therefore likely to be continuous and robust. Measured grain-growth rates, recrystallization characteristics, and grain-size response at climate transitions fit within current understanding. Significant impurity control on grain size is indicated from correlation analysis between impurity loading and grain size. Bubble-number densities and bubble sizes and shapes are presented through the full extent of the bubbly ice. Where bubble elongation is observed, the direction of elongation is preferentially parallel to the trace of the basal (0001) plane. Preferred crystallographic orientation of grains is present in the shallowest samples measured, and increases with depth, progressing to a vertical-girdle pattern that tightens to a vertical single-maximum fabric. This single-maximum fabric switches into multiple maxima as the grain size increases rapidly in the deepest, warmest ice. A strong dependence of the fabric on the impuritymediated grain size is apparent in the deepest samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1140-1154
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Glaciology
Issue number224
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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