Application of the gas law to fourth-place density measurements of ice samples from two deep drill holes at “Byrd” station and “Little America V”, Antarctica, shows that virtually all density increase beyond the pore close-off density (0.830 g cm−3) can be attributed to compression of the entrapped bubbles of air. Data from “Byrd” station also indicate that the lag between overburden pressure and bubble pressure, initially 4–5 kg cm−2 at pore close-off, diminishes to less than 1.0 kg cm−2 at about 200 m depth. By substituting the overburden pressure for the bubble pressure in the pressure-density relationship based on the gas law, one can determine ice densities below 200 m more accurately than they can be measured per se on cores, because of the relaxation that occurs in samples recovered from high confining pressures. This relaxation, resulting in a progressive increase in the bulk volume of the ice with time, is generally attributed to decompression of the entrapped air bubbles following removal of the ice from high confining pressures. However. calculations of the stress in ice due to bubble pressure, together with measurements of bubble sizes in cores from various depths at “Byrd” station, both tend to indicate that there has been negligible decompression of the inclosed bubbles. It is suggested that most of this relaxation may be due to the formation of micro-cracks in the ice. Anomalous bubble pressure–density relations at “Little America V” tend to confirm abundant petrographic evidence of the existence of considerable deformation in the upper part of the Ross Ice Shelf.
Studies of crystal–bubble relations at “Byrd” station revealed that the concentration of bubbles in ice remains remarkably constant at approximately 220 bubbles/cm3. Bubbles and crystals were found to be present in approximately equal numbers at pore close-off at 64 m depth, at which level the average bubble diameter was 0·95 mm, decreasing to 0.49 mm at 116 m and to 0·33 mm at 279 m. Despite a ten-fold increase in the size of crystals between 64 and 279 m, the bubbles showed no tendency to migrate to grain boundaries during recrystallization of the ice. The observation that most of the bubbles had assumed substantially spherical shapes by 120 m depth points to essentially hydrostatic conditions in the upper layers of the ice sheet at “Byrd” station.