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First Glaciological Studies on the James Ross Island Ice Cap, Antarctic Peninsula

  • A. J. Aristarain (a1) and R. Delmas (a2)

Abstract

A 10 m deep core and a 2 m pit were achieved in December 1977 on the ice cap of James Ross Island (Antarctic Peninsula) 3 km westward of the main dome at an altitude of 1 500 m. The 10 m temperature was −14.2°C. The core was cut into 106 samples which have been used for density, total β radioactivity, electroconductivity, and deuterium-content measurements. The age at the bottom of the bore hole has been estimated to be 1 965±1 year and a mean annual snow accumulation rate 37.7±3.0 g cm−2 a−1 is calculated over the last 13 years. By comparing our results with those obtained in other areas of the Peninsula, the climate of the upper part of James Ross Island seems to follow the climatic regime of the western coast. A preliminary chemical analysis of the pit samples leads us to conclude that the snow impurities are mainly sea-salt derived. The conductivity measurements show a clearly defined peak at the end of 1967 which could be linked with the volcanic eruption of the Deception Island volcano in December 1967. The interest of the studied location is discussed in view of further more extended glaciological investigations and particularly a possible coring to the bottom.

Résumé

En décembre 1977 un carottage à 10 m de profondeur et un puils de 2 m ont été réalisés sur la calotte polaire de James Ross Island (Antarctic Peninsula) à 3 km à l’ouest du dôme supérieur de l'île et à 1 500 m d’altitude, la température à 10 m de profondeur élant de − 14,2°C. La carotte a été découpée en 106 échantillons sur lesquels, on a effectué des mesures de densité, de radioactivité β globale, de conductivité électrique et de teneur en deutérium. L’âge au fond du carottage a été estimé à 1 965±1 a. On en a déduit une accumulation moyenne annuelle en ce lieu de 37,7±3,0 g cm−2 a−1 sur 13 ans. Par comparaison avec des résultats portant sur d’autres régions de la péninsule, il semblerait que le climat sur la partie supérieure de James Ross Island s’apparente à celui de la côte ouest de la péninsule. Une analyse chimique succinte des échantillons prélevés dans le puits permet de mettre en évidence l’origine marine des impuretés présentes dans la neige. Les mesures conductimétriques montrent un pic défini fin 1967, en liaison vraisemblablement avec une éruption du volcan de Deception Island à cette date. On conclue sur l’intérêt du site étudié pour la réalisation de travaux glaciologiques plus importants en particulier pour un forage jusqu’au socle.

Zusammenfassung

Im Dezember 1977 wurde auf der Eiskappe der James Ross Island (Antarctic Peninsula) 3 km westlich des Hauptdomes in einer Höhe von 1 500 m ein Bohrkern vom 10 m Länge gewonnen und ein Schacht von 2 m Tiefe gegraben. Die Temperatur in 10 m Tiefe betrug − 14,2°C. Der Bohrkern wurde in 106 Proben zerschnitten, die zur Messung der Dichte, der Gesamt-β-Aktivität, der elektrischen Leitfähigkeit und des Deuteriumgehaltes herangezogen worden. Das Alter des Eises am Grunde des Bohrloches wurde auf das Jahr 1 965±1 Jahr geschätzt; die mittlere jährliche Schneeakkumulation wurde für die letzten 13 Jahre zu 37,7±3,0 g cm−2 a−1 berechnet. Im Vergleich zu Ergebnissen aus anderen Gebieten der Halbinsel scheint das Klima im oberen Teil der James Ross Island dem Klimaablauf der Westküste zu folgen. Eine vorläufige chemische Analyse der Schachtproben führte zu dem Schluss, dass die Verunreinigungen im Schnee hauptsächlich vom Salz des Meerwassers stammen. Die Messungen der Leitfähigkeit zeigen ein klar ausgeprägtes Maximum am Ende des Jahres 1967, das mit dem Ausbruch des Vulkans auf Deception Island im Dezember 1967 in Verbindung stehen könnte. Das Interesse an der untersuchten Stelle wird im Hinblick auf weitere, ausgedehnte glaziologische Studien, besonders auf eine mögliche Bohrung bis zum Felsuntergrund, diskutiert.

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References

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