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Alaskan Icefall with rockface nearby
January 19, 20242 min read

Exploring Glacier Dynamics in Alaska: Pegasus Quick Deploy Stations to Unlock Ice-Fall Mysteries

In a groundbreaking initiative to delve into the mechanics governing glacier movements in Alaska, Nanometrics has announced its support for an ambitious study through its Pegasus Quick Deploy Grant. The project aims to fill critical knowledge gaps regarding the motion of glaciers through steep terrain, particularly focusing on ice falls, which remain understudied and poorly understood.

This venture has been propelled by the recognition of the significance of understanding glacier dynamics for predicting future mass loss, considering Alaska's substantial contribution to current sea-level rise. The project's primary objective is to deploy Pegasus Quick Deploy stations in challenging areas surrounding an ice-fall, collecting crucial data to unravel the mechanics and drivers of ice flow in steep terrain.

The grant-in-kind

The proposed study, a collaborative effort with the Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP), holds a dual purpose. Not only will it contribute invaluable insights into glacier behaviour, but it will also offer an educational opportunity for aspiring field scientists involved with JIRP. The collaboration aims to involve JIRP students in the deployment of Nanometrics stations, providing mentorship and hands-on experience in scientific endeavours.

The study will focus its instrument deployment around the Vaughn Lewis Icefall on the Juneau Icefield, Alaska. It plans to deploy three stations on the ice, concentrating on the area of extensional stress just upstream of the icefall. Additionally, two stations will be deployed on rock formations flanking either side of the icefall. This deployment is set to span approximately three weeks, a significant duration for cryo-seismological work, enabling the collection of comprehensive data.

The collected data will undergo meticulous processing to identify basal ice quakes, gliding tremors, and glacio-hydraulic tremors. These indicators will offer critical insights into the stick-slip motion of glaciers over their bed surfaces and the possible influence of sub-glacial water flow on ice motion. Furthermore, the seismic data will be synchronized with time-lapse imagery, melt-modeling, and tilt-meter data collected concurrently by other scientists at JIRP.

The amalgamation of these datasets aims to decipher correlations with ice motion and disentangle the intricate dynamics of ice flow across the Gilkey icefall. Notably, JIRP students, under the guidance of PhD student Yoram Terleth, will actively participate in the deployment of Nanometrics stations and subsequent data processing. They will also have the opportunity to co-author scientific deliverables such as posters or journal articles, fostering a hands-on learning experience.

This study promises to shed light on the mysteries surrounding glacier dynamics in challenging terrains, offering not only scientific insights but also invaluable educational experiences for the next generation of field scientists.

We at Nanometrics are proud to support this study and are eager to report on the progress of the study. Stay tuned for more!

More about the grant-in-kind

Nanometrics launched a call for studies in seismology using 5 Pegasus and broadband Compact Horizon Quick Deploy Stations for a six-month study in 2023. The grant-in-kind is for scientific researchers, particularly postgraduate students and early career scientists. Nanometrics is particularly interested in proposals that demonstrate innovative applications of the Pegasus Stations in scientific research. The proposed study should aim to advance the understanding of a particular phenomenon, whether it be natural disasters, environmental changes, or other relevant scientific fields.

Yoram Terleth, a PhD Student - Glacier Dynamics Department of Earth and Spatial Sciences at the University of Idaho was the winning recipient of the Grant and will be the lead contact on this study. Congratulations Yoram!


Emrah Alpsan

Director of Business Development - Seismic Instruments & Systems