West Antarctic Ice Sheet Airborne Gravimetry

R.E. Bell1, V.A. Childers1,3, R.A. Arko1,  M. Studinger1, D.D. Blankenship2, J.M. Brozena3 1Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, New York 2Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 3Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. Go straight to data.


An airborne geophysical program over West Antarctica was designed to study the linkage between the West Antarctic Rift System and the dynamic evolution of the overlying West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The integrated data acquisition system mounted on a DeHavilland Twin Otter consists of an airborne gravity system, a towed aeromagnetic system, an ice penetrating radar, and a laser altimeter (see picture above). The aerogeophysical data set covers a 300,000 km2 region in West Antarctica (Figure 1). The survey area is covered by a grid of orthogonal flight lines spaced 5.3 km apart in both directions consisting of 150,000 line kilometers. Flight elevation varied from 1600 m to 2500 m (check here for details). The work described above is a project at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in collaboration with the Institute for Geophysics of the University of Texas at Austin. Airborne geophysical surveys within this program were carried out by the Support Office for Aerogeophysical Research (SOAR), a National Science Foundation facility of the Office of Polar Programs located at the University of Texas. Funding for this project was provided by the US National Science Foundation. A detailed technical description of the airborne gravimetry can be found in Bell et al., Airborne gravity and precise positioning for geologic applications, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 104, No B7, 15281-15292, 1999. West Antarctica Survey Area