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Geology of the Denman Glacier region: a deep field dive

May 23rd:  6:00 PM, School of Earth Sciences Lecture Theatre, University of Tasmania. 


The Denman Glacier region, about 500 km west of Australia’s Casey Station, drains a large ice catchment sitting above a subglacial basin that (possibly) hosts the deepest terrestrial trench on Earth! This region alone holds ice with a potential sea level rise of 1.5 m and has some of the highest rates of grounding line melt anywhere in Antarctica. Given this vulnerability to climate warming, and the diverse range of ice, ocean and geological environments preserved in the region, it has become a key focus Australian and international collaborations.

In the 2023-24 summer, 27 scientists and some 15+ support personnel camped in the Bunger Hills region adjacent to the Denman Glacier to undertake the most ambitious Australian-led multi-disciplinary science campaign in decades. Geologists Jacqui Halpin (UTAS) and Jack Mulder (UAdelaide) were part of the Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS) team, spending 2 months climbing all over the spectacular rocky peaks and coastal outcrops. With some 1000kg of rocks in their backpacks (and some help from the helicopters and friends), they have sampled a fascinating window into the ancient past - a tectonic tale more than 3 billion years in the making! During this talk, Jacqui will show images of the field season, including what life was like in tight (tent) quarters, and take you on a virtual field trip through the guts of a glacial system, and from the Archean, through the Proterozoic, to the (maybe) Permian, and the very recent glacial moraines.

A/Prof Jacqueline Halpin is a geologist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS). She is particularly interested in deep-time processes, including tectonic cycles and past supercontinent configurations. Jacqueline is currently working on Antarctic geoscience themes including past ice sheet change and Earth-cryosphere interactions, as part of the ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science Special Research Initiative (ACEAS). Jacqueline completed her science undergraduate degree with Honours in Geology from the University of Melbourne in 2001, and was awarded her PhD, on the tectonic evolution of the Rayner Complex in East Antarctica, from the University of Sydney in 2007. She has previously worked for the Centre of Ore Deposit and Earth Sciences (CODES) as a research fellow (2007-2015), and at Macquarie University (2007-2015) and University of Sydney (2011-2012) as a lecturer and research associate.


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