Seismic Monitoring of Ice Dynamics in Terre Adélie, East-Antarctica

Environmental seismology has become in this last decade a new discipline, based on the analysis of the microseismic noise that allows investigating environmental processes (swell, storms, floods, erosion, avalanches,…), at sea or on land and it particularly includes all the processes involved in marine or grounded ice dynamics. Seismological deployments that we performed in the recent years in the frame of the ARLITA IPEV program in Terre Adélie (2009-2012, PI J. Bascou) [Barruol et al., 2013; Lamarque et al., 2015], and also around the Belgium base Princess Elisabeth [Lombardi et al., 2016] have demonstrated the wealth and quality of the cryo-seismic signals and their potential in deciphering the glacial activity in Antarctica and its interaction with the ocean: ice flow, glacier sliding and deformation, iceberg calving and drifting, ocean-glacier interplay, sea-ice activity.

By detecting, locating and characterizing cryo-seismic sources, seismology allows to measure and quantify number of processes related to the ice dynamics and their interactions with the ocean, opening new fields of research closely related to the environment and to the climate change.

The present proposal focuses on monitoring ice dynamics of the coast of Terre Adélie (ice sheet, glaciers, icebergs, sea-ice), by combining observations from land and sea-floor seismic stations. The use of deep-sea seismic observations associated to hydroacoustic data from ocean bottom seismometers (OBS) in Antarctic areas will also provides an unique opportunity for the detection and tracking of marine mammals in this area [Dréo et al., 2018].

In a first step, we propose to make a feasibility study by deploying a small seismic network on the continent and few OBSs at sea during the austral summer 2019-2020. The ideal target could be the Astrolabe glacier, the behavior and geometry of which have been well described by several previous experiments (DACOTA PI E. Le Meur & ASUMA, PI V. Favier) [Le Meur et al., 2014], and the short distance to Dumont D’Urville and Cap Prud’homme bases being optimal to minimize the logistics.

In the longer term, this project aims at initiating a much larger project in environmental monitoring, combining seismic observations with bioacoustic and oceanographic observations along a segment of the Antarctic coast. This multidisciplinary project based on geophysics, biology and oceanography is particularly well suited to build up an attractive ERC-SYNERGY proposal that could be submitted in November 2019.