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Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

USGS collects ice core through Alpine glacier

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Abstract

On August 24, 1991, a U.S. Geological Survey study team from Wyoming completed a core hole to bedrock underlying Upper Fremont Glacier in the Wind River Range of central Wyoming. During the month of core drilling, the team collected a 160-m ice core from the glacier at an elevation of 4000 m above sea level using a solar-powered thermal drill (See photo). The drill was constructed and operated by personnel from the Polar Ice Coring Office (PICO) in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The 1991 drilling project is part of ongoing research conducted by the USGS since 1988 on temperate glaciers in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. The objective of the project is to use variations in concentrations of chemical and isotopic constituents in samples of ice cores to reconstruct records of the chemical quality of atmospheric deposition and to extend long-term climatic records. A maximum of 300–500 years of record is estimated to be available in upper accumulation zones of the Wind River Range glaciers. The proximity of the Wind River Range glaciers to atmospheric pollution sources in the western United States makes them unique environmental records. Cooperating in the project were the Shoshone and Arapaho Indian tribes, Wyoming Water Development Commission, PICO, Wyoming State Engineer, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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