Multi-tracer study of gas trapping in an East Antarctic ice core

We study a firn and ice core drilled at the new "Lock-In" site in East Antarctica, located 136 km away from Concordia station towards Durmont d'Urville. High resolution chemical and physical measurements were performed on the core, with a particular focus on the trapping zone of the firn where air bubbles are formed. We measured the air content in the ice, closed and open porous volumes in the firn, firn density, firn liquid conductivity and major ion concentrations, as well as methane concentrations in the ice. The closed and open porosity volumes of firn samples were obtained by the two independent methods of pycnometry and tomography, that yield similar results. The measured increase of the closed porosity with density is used to estimate the air content trapped in the ice with the aid of a simple gas trapping model. Results show a discrepancy, with the model trapping too much air. Experimental errors have been considered but do not explain the discrepancy between the model and the observations. The model and data can be reconciled with the introduction of a reduced compression of the closed porosity compared to the open porosity. Yet, it is not clear if this limited compression of closed pores is the actual mechanism responsible for the low amount of air in the ice. High resolution density measurements reveal the presence of a strong layering, manifesting itself as centimeter scale variations. Despite this heterogeneous stratification, all layers, including the ones that are especially dense or less dense compared to their surroundings, display similar pore morphology and closed porosity as function of density. This implies that all layers close in a similar way, even though some close in advance or later compared to the bulk firn. Investigation of the chemistry data suggests that in the trapping zone, the observed stratification is partly related to the presence of chemical impurities.


Publication status:
Authors: Fourteau, Kévin, Martinerie, Patricia, Faïn, Xavier, Schaller, Christoph F., Tuckwell, Rebecca J., Löwe, Henning, Arnaud, Laurent, Magand, Olivier, Thomas, Elizabeth R. ORCIDORCID record for Elizabeth R. Thomas, Freitag, Johannes, Mulvaney, Robert ORCIDORCID record for Robert Mulvaney, Schneebeli, Martin

On this site: Liz Thomas, Robert Mulvaney
17 December, 2019
The Cryosphere / 13
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