Marine Geophysical Research

, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 383–395 | Cite as

A high-resolution, multi-channel, over-sea-ice seismic reflection survey over the Mackay Sea Valley, Granite Harbor, Antarctica

  • B. P. Williams
  • M. A. Speece
  • R. D. Powell
Original Research Paper


In the austral summer of 2007, 20.5 km of high-resolution over-sea-ice seismic reflection data were collected in the Granite Harbor region of southern McMurdo Sound over the Mackay Sea Valley. The goal of the survey was to image thin pelagic sediment deposited in the Mackay Sea Valley after the Last Glacial Maximum. A generator–injector air gun was lowered beneath the sea ice through holes drilled by an auger drill system. The recording system was a 60 channel snow streamer with vertically oriented gimbaled geophones spaced 25 m apart. Unique problems in the over-sea-ice seismic reflection survey—noise from the ice column flexing and timing delays caused by trapped air at previous shot points—were overcome to improve the quality of the seismic data. The Mackay Sea Valley survey produced seismic data with a vertical resolution of 6.3 m. The processed seismic data show pelagic sediment thickness of up to 50 m within the Mackay Sea Valley with some locations showing possible older sediments beneath the pelagic sediment layer.


Antarctic High-resolution Over-sea-ice Reflection Seismic 



The National Science Foundation funded the MSV survey through grant OPP-0342484. We thank Webster’s Drilling and Exploration LTD for drilling shot holes, UNAVCO for providing GPS coordinates of shot locations, and the entire MSV survey crew. We thank Andrew McKee and Raytheon Polar services for logistical support. David Reichhardt, Curtis Link and two anonymous reviewers made important corrections to this manuscript. The seismic data were processed using Landmark Graphics ProMAX®. Seismic interpretations were done in Kingdom Suite®.


  1. Barr FJ, Nyland DL, Sitton GA (1993) Attenuation of flexural ice waves and random noise using both geophones and hydrophones. Soc Explor Geophys Expand Abs 558–561Google Scholar
  2. Barton C, Beresford-Smith G, Rango R (1986) Flexural waves on Arctic data: application of new techniques for S/N enhancement. Soc Explor Geophys Expand Abs 458–461Google Scholar
  3. Beresford-Smith G, Rango RN (1988) Dispersive noise removal in the t–x space: application to Arctic data. Geophys 53:346–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Betterly SJ, Speece MA, Levy RH, Harwood DM, Henrys SA (2007) A novel over-sea-ice seismic reflection survey in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Terra Antartica 14(2):97–106Google Scholar
  5. Burgess CJ, Palmer AJ, Anderson JM (1981) The geology of the Fry Glacier area, South Victoria Land, Antarctica, with particular reference to the Taylor group. NZ J Geol Geophys 24:373–388Google Scholar
  6. Cape Roberts Science Team (1998) Initial Report from CRP-1, Cape Roberts Project, Antarctica. Terra Antartica 5:1–187Google Scholar
  7. Cape Roberts Science Team (1999) Studies from the Cape Roberts Project, Ross Sea, Antarctica, Initial Report on CRP-2/2A. Terra Antartica 6(245):1–173Google Scholar
  8. Cape Roberts Science Team (2000) Studies from the Cape Roberts Project, Ross Sea, Antarctica, Initial Report on CRP-3. Terra Antartica 7:1–209Google Scholar
  9. Clark SP Jr, Daly RA, Manger GE (eds) (1966) Handbook of physical constants. Revised edition, Memoir 97, Geological Society of America, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  10. Conway H, Hall BL, Denton GH, Gades AM, Waddington ED (1999) Past and future grounding- line retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Sci 286:280–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Curren MG (1995) Descriptions of sediment recovered by the R/V Nathaniel B. Palmer, United States Antarctic Program Cruise 01, 1995. Antarctic Marine Geology Research Facility Florida State University Tallahassee, FLGoogle Scholar
  12. Davy BW, Alder G (1989) Seismic reflection surveys. In: Barrett PJ (ed) Antarctic Cenozoic history from the CIROS-1 drillhole, McMurdo Sound. NZ Dep of Ind Res, pp 15–21Google Scholar
  13. Del Molino G, Rovetta D, Mazzucchelli P, Sandroni S, Rizzo F, Andreoletti C (2008) Seismic exploration on ice: the flexural wave noise challenge. Soc Explor Geophys Expand Abs 27:2571–2575Google Scholar
  14. Domack EW, Jacobson EK, Shipp S, Anderson JB (1999) Late Pleistocene–Holocene retreat of the West Antarctic Ice-Sheet system in the Ross Sea. Part 2. Sedimentologic and stratigraphic signature. Geol Soc Am Bull 111(10):1517–1536CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elliott CE (2006) Physical rock weathering along the Victoria Land Coast, Antarctica. Dissertation, University of Canterbury pp 123Google Scholar
  16. Ewing M, Crary AP (1934) Propagation of elastic waves in ice, Part II. Physics 5:181–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gunn BM, Warren G (1962) Geology of Victoria Land between the Mawson and Mulock glaciers, Antarctica. NZ Geol Surv Bull 71:1–157Google Scholar
  18. Hall BL, Denton GH (1999) New relative sea-level curves for the southern Scott Coast, Antarctica: evidence for Holocene deglaciation of the western Ross Sea. J Quater Sci 14(7):641–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hambrey MJ, Barrett PJ (1993) Cenozoic sedimentary and climatic record of the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. In: JP Kennett, DA Warnke (eds) The antarctic paleoenvironment: a perspective on global change. Part 2. Antarctic Res Series, Am Geophys Union,Washington, DC 60:91–124Google Scholar
  20. Hamilton RJ, Sorlien CC, Luyendyk BP, Henrys SA (1998) Tectonic regimes and structural trends off Cape Roberts, Antarctica. Terra Antarct 5(3):261–272Google Scholar
  21. Hamilton RJ, Luyendyk BP, Sorlien CC (2001) Cenozoic tectonics of the Cape Roberts Rift Basin and Transantarctic Mountains Front, Southwestern Ross Sea, Antarctica. Tectonics 20(3):325–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Horgan H, Bannister S (2004) Explosive source seismic experiments from a sea-ice platform, McMurdo Sound, 2003. Inst Geol Nucl Sci Sci Rep 15:1–27Google Scholar
  23. Jensen SL, Janik T, Thybo H, Grad M, Gaczynski E, Guterch A, Keller GR, Miller KC (1999) Seismic structure of the Palaeozoic Platform along POLONAISE ‘97 profile P1 in northwestern Poland. Tectonophys 314(1–3):123–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kuzmin MI, Karabanov EB, Prokopenko AA, Gelety VF, Antipin VS, Williams DF, Gvozdkov AN (2000) Sedimentation processes and new age constraints on rifting stages in Lake Baikal: results of deep water drilling. Int J Earth Sci (Geologische Rundsch) 89(2):183–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lansley RM, Eilert PL, Nyland DL (1984) Surface sources on floating ice: the flexural ice wave. Soc Explor Geophys Expand Abs 3:828–831Google Scholar
  26. Leventer A, Dunbar RB, DeMaster DJ (1993) Diatom evidence for late Holocene climatic events in Granite Harbour, Antarctica. Am Geophys Union Paleoceanogr 8(3):373–386Google Scholar
  27. Lewis EL (1973) Sea ice and sound. Proceedings from National Convention. Canadian Soc Explor Geophys 164–169Google Scholar
  28. Licht KJ, Jennings AE, Andrews JT, Williams KM (1996) Chronology of late Wisconsin ice retreat from the western Ross Sea, Antarctica. Geology 24(3):223–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McConnell JR, Potts MJ, Schleicher KL, Wason CB (1986) Dispersive noise attenuation. Soc Explor Geophys Expand Abs 5:455–458Google Scholar
  30. McGinnis LD (ed) (1981) Dry Valley Drilling Project: Antarctic Research Series. Am Geophys Union, Washington, DC 33:465Google Scholar
  31. Nielsen C, Thybo H (2009) Lower crustal intrusions beneath the southern Baikal rift zone; Evidence from full-waveform modelling of wide-angle seismic data. Tectonphys 470(3–4):298–318. doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2009.01.023 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pocknall DT, Chinn TJ, Sykes R, Skinner DNB (1994) Geology of the Convoy Range area, southern Victoria Land, Antarctica. Lower Hutt, NZ, Inst of Geol and Nucl SciGoogle Scholar
  33. Powell R (2001) MacKay Sea Valley (MSV): Holocene high-frequency climate variations. In: Harwood DM, Lacy L, Levy RH (eds) Future antarctic margin drilling: developing a science program plan for McMurdo Sound: ANDRILL contribution 1, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lincoln, Nebraska, pp 88–95Google Scholar
  34. Powell RD, Hambrey MJ, Krissek LA (1998) Quaternary and Miocene glacial and climatic history of the Cape Roberts drillsite region, Antarctica. Terra Antartica 5(3):341–351Google Scholar
  35. Proubasta D (1985) Ice Saw—an incisive solution to seismic noise. The Leading Edge 4:18–23Google Scholar
  36. Rebesco M, Camerlenghi A, De Santis L, Domack E, Kirby M (1998) Seismic stratigraphy of Palmer Deep: a fault-bounded late quateranary sediment trap on the inner continential shelf, Antarctica Pennisula Pacific margin. Mar Geol 151:89–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Sercel (2006) Marine sources. Sercel IncGoogle Scholar
  38. Shei S, Ward RW, Veith KF (1983) Flexural waves in floating ice. Soc Explor Geophys Expand Abs 2:258–261Google Scholar
  39. Shipp S, Domack E, Anderson J (1999) Late Pleistocene–Holocene retreat of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet System in the Ross Sea. Part 1. Geophysical results. Geol Soc Am Bull 111(10):1486–1516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Speece MA, Levy RH, Harwood DM, Pekar SF, Powell RD (2009) New seismic methods to support sea-ice platform drilling. Sci Drill 7:40–43. doi: 10.2204/ Google Scholar
  41. Sugden D, Denton G (2004) Cenozoic landscape evolution of the Convoy Range to Mackay Glacier area, Transantarctic Mountains: Onshore to offshore synthesis. Geol Soc Am Bull 116(7/8):840–857. doi: 10.1130/B25356.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sunwall D, Speece M, Pekar S (2010) Latest advances in over-sea-ice seismic reflection surveys: offshore New Harbor, Antarctica. Soc of Explor Geophys Int Expo and Eightieth Annual Meet 2010 Tech Program, Expand Abs 36–40Google Scholar
  43. Timco GW, Frederking RMW (1996) A review of sea ice density. Cold Reg Sci Technol 24:1–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geophysical Engineering DepartmentMontana TechButteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geology and Environmental GeosciencesNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

Personalised recommendations