Stagnant ice and age modelling in the Dome C region, Antarctica

The European Beyond EPICA project aims to extract a continuous ice core of up to 1.5 Ma, with a maximum age density of 20 kyr m−1 at Little Dome C (LDC). We present a 1D numerical model which calculates the age of the ice around Dome C. The model inverts for basal conditions and accounts either for melting or for a layer of stagnant ice above the bedrock. It is constrained by internal reflecting horizons traced in radargrams and dated using the EPICA Dome C (EDC) ice core age profile. We used three different radar datasets ranging from a 10 000 km2 airborne survey down to 5 km long ground-based radar transects over LDC. We find that stagnant ice exists in many places, including above the LDC relief where the new Beyond EPICA drill site (BELDC) is located. The modelled thickness of this layer of stagnant ice roughly corresponds to the thickness of the basal unit observed in one of the radar surveys and in the autonomous phase-sensitive radio-echo sounder (ApRES) dataset. At BELDC, the modelled stagnant ice thickness is 198±44 m and the modelled oldest age of ice is 1.45±0.16 Ma at a depth of 2494±30 m. This is very similar to all sites situated on the LDC relief, including that of the Million Year Ice Core project being conducted by the Australian Antarctic Division. The model was also applied to radar data in the area 10–15 km north of EDC (North Patch), where we find either a thin layer of stagnant ice (generally <60 m) or a negligible melt rate (<0.1 mm yr−1). The modelled maximum age at North Patch is over 2 Ma in most places, with ice at 1.5 Ma having a resolution of 9–12 kyr m−1, making it an exciting prospect for a future Oldest Ice drill site.


Publication status:
Authors: Chung, Ailsa, Parrenin, Frédéric, Steinhage, Daniel, Mulvaney, Robert ORCIDORCID record for Robert Mulvaney, Martín, Carlos ORCIDORCID record for Carlos Martín, Cavitte, Marie G. P., Lilien, David A., Helm, Veit, Taylor, Drew, Gogineni, Prasad, Ritz, Catherine, Frezzotti, Massimo, O'Neill, Charles, Miller, Heinrich, Dahl-Jensen, Dorthe, Eisen, Olaf

On this site: Carlos Martin Garcia, Robert Mulvaney
24 August, 2023
The Cryosphere / 17
23pp / 3461-3483
Link to published article: