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School of Earth and Climate Sciences

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Shackleton Glacier, Antarctica – Elizabeth Dengler

The goal of my project is to establish the Late Quaternary ice elevations and deglaciation history at Shackleton Glacier.  This study will improve characterization of the Ross Sea ice sheet, specifically during the LGM, thereby helping to constrain Antarctic contributions to deglacial sea-level rise.  My fieldwork for this project took place in November and December of 2011 at Shackleton Glacier in the southern Transantarctic Mountains, Antarctica.  At my primary location, Thanksgiving Point, I mapped drifts, moraines, former ice-marginal ponds, shorelines and deltas.  Freeze-dried algae were collected from under rocks on moraines and in former ice-marginal pond basins for radiocarbon dating.  These dates will help to determine the age of different ice-marginal positions and rates of ice retreat since the LGM.  As the ice elevation profile of Shackleton Glacier at the LGM was controlled largely by the thickness of the Ross Sea Ice Sheet these data can help to document the fluctuations of the ice sheet and therefore constrain Antarctica’s contribution to meltwater pulse 1A.

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation.



Salmon Valley, Antarctica – Margaret Jackson

During the Last Glacial Maximum, a grounded ice sheet filled the Ross Sea.  This ice was thick enough to flow onto the Victoria Land coast and intrude into the valleys of the Royal Society Range.  While we know quite a bit about the extent of this ice sheet, the timing of its retreat is more enigmatic.  Because of this, Antarctica’s contribution to past sea-level change is an open question.

I’m investigating the history of ice in the Ross Sea, as well as Antarctica’s role in past sea-level change, through study of the glacial history of Salmon Valley in the Royal Society Range.  I use glacial geologic mapping and radiocarbon dating of fossil algae to determine the chronology of glaciation and to reconstruct past ice extent.

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation.


Renland Ice Cap, Greenland – Aaron


For my Master’s project I am looking at the fluctuations of the Renland Ice Cap (East Greenland) over the Holocene (last ~11.5 thousand calendar years). This time period is climatically relatively stable; however centennial/millennial-scale climate events occur throughout. Scientists have proposed multiple ideas as the cause of these variations, but no hypothesis is widely accepted. Therefore for my project I will produce a high-resolution glacial/climate record for the Renland Ice Cap. In combination with other high-resolution records spanning the globe, we can better understand the forcing producing these climate events.

Over three weeks in August, I was lucky enough to do field work in Renland. The field team consisted of myself, my advisor Brenda Hall, and colleagues from University of Cincinnati, Dartmouth College, and Northwestern University. I will use the sedimentary record preserved in multiple glacial-fed lakes, and one non-glacial lake to produce the glacial record for this region. For most of my time in the field I was working on coring multiple lakes in the region. In my field area we collected around 15m of sediment over three lakes. I was also able to walk up to the ice cap and help collect organic samples that will further help constrain the size of the ice cap.

Currently I am working in the lab doing detailed analysis of the cores I collected. Depending on how the sediment changes, by measuring properties such as grain size and organic content, we can start determine if the glacier was contributing more of less sediment and meltwater to the glacial fed lakes.

This work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Image of our coring platform on one of the glacially fed lakes, Rapids Lake.




Image Description: Thanksgiving Point is a dry valley halfway up-glacier. It is about 3 km long and contains, many glacial drifts, moraines and former ice-marginal ponds, and has 5 modern ponds. The image above shows the west end of the valley and three of the modern ponds.

Image Description: This panorama shows the intersection where Mincey Glacier (right) enters Shackleton Glacier (left). Thanksgiving Valley may record the unique history of these glaciers because it is located right at this intersection and likely has been influenced by both glaciers in the past.

Image Description: Fresh granites (such as these found perched on a much older dolerite boulder) were found scattered throughout the lower east end of the valley. This region of the valley is very thick and featured containing many moraines and is characterized by large fresh angular dolerite boulders but also contains older reworked boulders. The presence of granites suggests that this a very young drift, most likely LGM in age.

Image Description: Looking west towards the Royal Society Range from lower Salmon Valley. Salmon Glacier is visible.

Image Description: A view of Mt. Discovery on Brown Peninsula from Salmon Valley as our team samples lacustrine algae from the drift.

Image Description: medford

Image Description: medford2

Image Description: Image of a core collected from Rapids Lake. Changes in sediment can be seen in this core. Using this archive, a glacial/climate record for the region can be constructed.

Back to Glacial Geology and Geochronology Research Group

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Contact Information

School of Earth and Climate Sciences
5790 Bryand Global Sciences Center
Orono, ME 04469-5790
Phone: (207) 581-2152 | Fax: (207) 581-2202E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469