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: Scientists image vast subglacial water system under West Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier

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

How productive are the ore factories in the deep sea?

14 hours ago

About ten years after the first moon landing, scientists on earth made a discovery that proved that our home planet still holds a lot of surprises in store for us. Looking through the portholes of the submersible ...

NASA image: Volcanoes in Guatemala

18 hours ago

This photo of volcanoes in Guatemala was taken from NASA's C-20A aircraft during a four-week Earth science radar imaging mission deployment over Central and South America. The conical volcano in the center ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.