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On the age vs depth and optical clarity of deep ice at the South Pole

  • The Amanda Collaboration


The first four strings of phototubes for the AMANDA high-energy neutrino observatory are now frozen in place at a depth of 800-1000 m in ice at the South Pole, During the 1995-96 season, as many as six more strings will be deployed at greater depths. Provided absorption, scattering and refraction of visible light are sufficiently small, the trajectory of a muon into which a neutrino converts can be determined by using the array of phototubes to measure the arrival times of Cherenkov light emitted by the muon. To help in deciding on the depth for implantation of the six new strings, we discuss models of age vs depth for South Pole ice, we estimate mean free paths for scattering from bubbles and dust as a function of depth and we assess distortion of light paths due to refraction at crystal boundaries and interfaces between air-hydrate inclusions and normal ice. We conclude that the interval 1600-2100 m will be suitably transparent for a future 1 km3 observatory except possibly in a region a few tens of meters thick at a depth corresponding to a peak in the dust concentration at 60 k year BP.

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