Sunday, October 25, 2009

Into the glacier we go...

We have completed our first three days of tunneling and have already reached 6.0 meters! A few more meters inwards and we will being to dig downwards and prep for sampling. The idea is that once we tunnel far enough inside the glacier we will reach an area where the glacial ice is not highly deformed from margin effects. The margins, the edges of a glacier, are often deformed due to events such as calving (breaking off of a large mass of ice from the glacier) or melting.

Once we feel we are sufficiently inside the glacier, we will dig a pit down to sample the sediment-laden striated ice underneath. It is in these sediment layers we have detected high levels of CO2 paired with low levels of O2, indicating a possibility of microbial aerobic respiration! Additionally, we have found increased areas of methane, another possible signal of microbial activity in ice.