The microstructures and microchemistry of four US International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition ice cores were examined, at three depths (30, 60, 90 m) each, using scanning electron microscopy, including electron backscattered patterns and energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), in order to assess the relationship between chemical and physical properties. The physical characteristics (grain size, porosity, density, internal surface volume, and crystallographic orientation) at the four sites were inhomogeneous, as expected on the basis of differences in the moisture content of deposited snow and the accumulation rate at their respective locations. Evidence of shallow subgrain boundary formation and trends in internal surface volume, having implications for the study of firn densification and ice-sheet modeling, were also found. Chemical characterization revealed that site-specific variations in particulate concentration and source could accurately be determined using EDS analysis. It was also found that the combination of elements predominant within the sample controls the morphology and microstructural location of the impurities.