About 1500 surface-ice samples for δ18O analysis were collected in the 1988 field season along a 750 m profile perpendicular to the margin of the Greenland ice sheet at Pakitsoq, ca 40 km north-east of Jakobshavn, central West Greenland. The purpose of the study was to evaluate how well the continuity of the layer sequence is preserved in ice-margin records, a question of crucial importance for evaluating the potential yield of using ice margins as “mining areas” for easily accessible old ice for climate and environmental studies.
More than half of the 1500 samples were taken continuously as 20 cm samples along a 170 m section through the Wisconsinan-Holocene transition which, previously, had been located at the surface of the ice margin. Along this transition section δ18O values decrease by about 6‰ from −31.5 to 37.5‰ on an average. Detailed studies were made of surface elevations and surface structures (e.g. blue bands) along the “horizontal core” profile which, moreover, was photographed section by section, thus enabling the δ-record to be correlated with surface features.
Results of the δ18O analyses are promising. Even though ice from the blue bands has δ-values that are 7–8‰ higher than those of the surrounding white ice, there seems to be no discontinuity in the white-ice δ-record across the blue bands.