US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Geosphere, August 2010, v. 6, no. 4, p. 370–378, doi: 10.1130/GES00512.1; 7 figures; 1 table.


The Antarctic Drilling Program (ANDRILL) successfully drilled and cored a borehole, AND-1B, beneath the McMurdo Ice Shelf and into a flexural moat basin that surrounds Ross Island. Total drilling depth reached 1285 m below sea floor (mbsf) with 98 percent core recovery for the detailed study of glacier dynamics. With the goal of obtaining complementary information regarding heat fl ow and permeability, which is vital to understanding the nature of marine hydrogeologic systems, a succession of three temperature logs was recorded over a five day span to monitor the gradual thermal recovery toward equilibrium conditions. These data were extrapolated to true, undisturbed temperatures, and they define a linear geothermal gradient of 76.7 K/km from the seafloor to 647 mbsf. Bulk thermal conductivities of the sedimentary rocks were derived from empirical mixing models and density measurements performed on core, and an average value of 1.5 W/mK ± 10 percent was determined. The corresponding estimate of heat fl ow at this site is 115 mW/m2. This value is relatively high but is consistent with other elevated heat-fl ow data associated with the Erebus Volcanic Province. Information regarding the origin and frequency of pathways for subsurface fluid flow is gleaned from drillers’ records, complementary geophysical logs, and core descriptions. Only two prominent permeable zones are identified and these correspond to two markedly different features within the rift basin; one is a distinct lithostratigraphic subunit consisting of a thin lava fl ow and the other is a heavily fractured interval within a single thick subunit.