West Antarctic Ice Sheet Stability:
Glacial Record from the Ohio Range of
the Horlick Mountains in the Bottleneck
Hal Borns*, Aaron Putnam, UMaine
Robert Ackert, Sujoy Mukhopadhyay, Harvard.
December 15, 2004 to February 15, 2005

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A sample from one of the outer ice-cored moraines, with a small alpine glacier/snowslope in the background.





Darling Ridge Moraine Complex

Today we visited the moraine complex west of Darling Ridge, where several alpine glaciers flow onto the ice sheet from the cliffs. I arose just before 0700h, and boiled water for hot drinks and oatmeal. I fried some brown bread in the skillet for the others who arose around 0800h.

We set off shortly thereafter, and I had the amazing privilege of being towed in the sled behind the ski-doo. We have three ski-doos for four people, and it was my turn to endure the sled ride rather than driving. The ride was long, and quite bumpy. For about two hours (due to putting in a flag route) I clenched the sides of the sled as Robert towed me over sastrugi and crests of blue-ice. Daunting crevasses passed underneath (at least from my inexperienced perspective they were daunting), and the wind scoured the outer layers of exposed skin. Twice, Robert stopped to take a picture or something, so I had ample opportunity to dismount my humble transport and stomp my feet to restore circulation… And, twice, Robert hopped on the sled and took off without looking to see whether or not I was on board. So, twice I ended up comically yelling, flailing my arms, and chasing after the snowmobile trying to get Roberts attention. How absolutely amusing it was for the others to watch (luckily someone noticed I was being abandoned)! I think Robert was mesmerized by the moraines in the distance, and drawn to them as one might be drawn to siren song.

Once on the moraine, we ate lunch and then sampled large, angular granite erratics from the outermost moraine of the complex. It appears as though this moraine was initially deposited by supraglacial processes on the nearby alpine glacier to the east on the ridge, and molded by the westward flowing ice sheet.

We sampled along the moraine ridge, and lower on the ice – the same strategy as used for the Discovery Ridge moraine. After sampling a cross-section and collecting a GPS topographic profile, we headed back. I sacrificed myself to the altar of the Siglin Sled once more, and we returned (the return trip was quicker due to the established flag route). I covered the ski-doos, consolidated the samples, and filled the stoves for Mexican night! Burritos were made, and followed by a dessert glass of Glenlivet. Though the sled rides were admittedly a bit rough today (however less so than I above stated – the language was merely for dramatics, and I deserve – nor expect – any sympathy), they were far outweighed by the majesty of the landscape I had to occupy my mind. The weather was clear and beautiful, without a single lenticular atop Mount Glossopteris or Mount Schopf. We are certainly blessed to have days a gorgeous and productive as this.

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