Studying erosion and weathering in one of the most extreme places on earth | 2/6/2019 | Staff
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Our team is studying how rocks alter and erode in one of the most extreme environments on the planet—Antarctica. The project is called Landscape evolution in the McMurdo Dry Valleys: Erosion rates and real-time monitoring of rock breakdown in a hyperarid, subzero environment, and it is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Office of Polar Programs.

Our team is made up of four scientists. I'm the primary investigator (PI) and a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Co-PI Joerg Schaefer is a Lamont Research Professor and adjunct professor at Columbia University; co-PI Martha-Cary (Missy) Eppes is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte; and collaborator/consultant Kate Swanger is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Joerg won't be heading to Antarctica with us this year, which leaves us with a three-person, all-female field team. This will be my fifth Antarctic field season, Kate's eighth, and Missy's first deployment.

Project - Firsts - NSF - Proposal - PI

This project represents several firsts for me: the first NSF proposal I've been awarded as a PI, my first time leading an Antarctic expedition, and my first time deploying acoustic emission sensors (more about this later) in Antarctica. It has been a tremendous learning experience in managing a project and planning the logistics of a long Antarctic field season. We've had our work cut out for us since last summer—between a late funding decision due to the federal government shutdowns of early 2018, and a multi-month delay in the production of our equipment, we had to scramble in September to test and pack the scientific gear in time for the Antarctic cargo shipping deadline. Luckily it came together for us in the end, and we're (hopefully!) on our way to a successful field season.

At its core, this project is an investigation into the surface processes active in ice-free...
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