Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Professor David Drewry: Ice Flows September 14 2006

The ice that flows from deep within the interior of the ice sheet of Antarctica towards the outlet glacier such as the Beardmore Glacier, are likely to erode the land surface, pick up rocks and carry them within the ice.

Towards the Transantarctic Mountains this ice conveyer belt begins to move any debris upwards as the ice surface is persistently removed by wind and also forced higher by the constrictions of the rising land.

In a few places the rocks and debris are brought to the surface of the ice sheet where they form moraines and patches of sediment.

By sampling these moraines and the small particles held in the ice in the "blue" ice areas it is possible to later analyse them for their mineralogy.

This in turn enables some constraints at worst and new insights at best on the geological composition of the sub-glacial terrain - the blue ice zones on the Beardmore Glaciers may thus prove to be unique windows on that hidden sub-glacial world.

Map showing bedrock surface adjacent to Beardmore Glacier

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