Lessons learned from shallow subglacial bedrock drilling campaigns in Antarctica

Braddock, Scott; Venturelli, Ryan A.; Nichols, Keir; Moravec, Elliot; Boeckmann, Grant V.; Campbell, Seth; Balco, Greg; Ackert, Robert; Small, David; Johnson, Joanne S. ORCID:; Dunbar, Nelia; Woodward, John; Mukhopadhyay, Sujoy. 2024 Lessons learned from shallow subglacial bedrock drilling campaigns in Antarctica. Annals of Glaciology. 11, pp.

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Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of International Glaciological Society. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
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We review successes and challenges from five recent subglacial bedrock drilling campaigns intended to find evidence for Antarctic Ice Sheet retreat during warm periods in the geologic past. Insights into times when the polar ice sheets were smaller than present serve as guiding information for modeling efforts that aim to predict the rate and magnitude of future sea level rise that would accompany major retreat of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. One method to provide direct evidence for the timing of deglaciations and minimum extent of prior ice sheets is to extract subglacial bedrock cores for cosmogenic nuclide analysis from beneath the modern ice sheet surface. Here we summarize the lessons learned from five field seasons tasked with obtaining bedrock cores from shallow depths (<120 m beneath ice surface) across West Antarctica since 2016. We focus our findings on drilling efforts and technology and geophysical surveys with ground-penetrating radar. Shallow subglacial drilling provides a high risk, high reward means to test for past instabilities of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, and we highlight key challenges and solutions to increase the likelihood of success for future subglacial drilling efforts in polar regions.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 02603055
Additional Keywords: Antarctic glaciology; glacial geology; glaciological instruments and methods; ground-penetrating radar; paleoclimate
Date made live: 02 Apr 2024 11:00 +0 (UTC)

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