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Brief communication: The hidden labyrinth: deep groundwater in Wright Valley, Antarctica

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  • Hilary A. Dugan, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • ,
  • Peter T. Doran, Louisiana State University
  • ,
  • Denys Grombacher
  • Esben Auken
  • Thue Bording
  • Nikolaj Foged
  • ,
  • Neil Foley, University of Montana
  • ,
  • Jill Mikucki, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • ,
  • Ross A. Virginia, Dartmouth College
  • ,
  • Slawek Tulaczyk, University of California at Santa Cruz

Since the 1960s, a deep groundwater system in Wright Valley, Antarctica, has been the hypothesized source of brines to hypersaline Don Juan Pond and Lake Vanda, both of which are rich in calcium and chloride. Modeling studies do not support other possible mechanisms, such as evaporative processes, that could have led to the current suite of ions present in both waterbodies. In 2011 and 2018, an airborne electromagnetic survey was flown over Wright Valley to map subsurface resistivity (down to 600 m) in exploration of liquid water. The surveys revealed widespread unfrozen brine in the subsurface near Lake Vanda, Don Juan Pond, and the North Fork of Wright Valley. While our geophysical survey can neither confirm nor deny deep groundwater connectivity between Lake Vanda and Don Juan Pond, it does point to the potential for deep valley-wide brine, likely within the Ferrar Dolerite formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4977-4983
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Hilary A. Dugan et al.

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