Measuring tiny icequakes

Aug 29, 2013
Recording icequakes at Rutford Icestream. Credit: Andy Smith

Measuring tiny icequakes is helping British Antarctic Survey scientists investigate ice streams despite the challenging environment they have to work in.

The work of Emma Smith, a PhD candidate at BAS, has been highlighted in the latest edition of the European Geosciences Union's quarterly newsletter, EGU GeoQ.

The latest newsletter marks a change for the EGU with a stronger focus on . It also corresponds to a new section on the EGU website for young scientists.

Emma told writer Becky Summers how she is using seismic data obtained at the Rutford Ice Stream in West Antarctica to get a clearer picture of how they flow.

The work is complicated by the fact the streams flow over a bed which is usually buried under kilometres of ice.

For this reason scientists use techniques derived from called passive microseismic monitoring.

This process involves placing geophones - which convert into voltage - on the ice stream surface to record the icequakes produces as it moves over the bed.

Using the data received allows Emma to build up a picture of the mechanisms that cause the icequakes, meaning she can better understand how the stream moves.

Emma started her career in engineering, moved into exploration geophysics and spent several years working for the oil and gas industry before returning to research.

Explore further: NASA balloons begin flying in Antarctica for 2014 campaign

More information: www.egu.eu/newsletter/geoq/07.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists observe drumlin beneath ice sheet

Jan 23, 2007

Scientists have discovered a warehouse-sized drumlin – a mound of sediment and rock – actively forming and growing under the ice sheet in Antarctica. Its discovery, and the rate at which it was formed, sheds new light ...

New research provides insight into ice sheet behavior

Jul 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study published this week takes scientists a step further in their quest to understand how Antarctica's vast glaciers will contribute to future sea-level rise. Reporting in the journal ...

Recommended for you

Scientists make strides in tsunami warning since 2004

Dec 19, 2014

The 2004 tsunami led to greater global cooperation and improved techniques for detecting waves that could reach faraway shores, even though scientists still cannot predict when an earthquake will strike.

Trade winds ventilate the tropical oceans

Dec 19, 2014

Long-term observations indicate that the oxygen minimum zones in the tropical oceans have expanded in recent decades. The reason is still unknown. Now scientists at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.