Scientific Objectives

The Antarctic Subglacial environment is a dynamic ecosystem where life, ice, water, and rock form a web of complex interactions. To better understand this subglacial biome, SALSA will employ an integrated approach of scientific discovery that samples from three geobiological systems. Through combining results across multiple disciplines, we will learn new information about our planet’s past and gain knowledge on subglacial processes such as carbon cycling and water-ice dynamics.

Preserving the pristine nature of Antarctic subglacial ecosystems necessitates environmental stewardship during their exploration. SALSA will drill into and access subglacial Lake Mercer using a clean and sterile system that minimizes microbial and chemical contamination to the environment and retrieved samples. Click here to read more about our clean access system.



SALSA will gather data from permanent GPS stations to better understand subglacial water flow’s influence on the larger ice sheet system and improve subglacial lake modeling through comparing our model’s estimates against geochemical data.

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Through examining microfossils and carbon isotopes within sediment cores, SALSA will gain new information on past paleoclimates, the source and age of relict carbon within subglacial lakes, and the geologic history of West Antarctica.

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The microbial life of subglacial ecosystems exists in total darkness and relies on relict carbon within subglacial sediments to persist. Through sampling these ecosystems, we will gain more knowledge of how these organisms survive.

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