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Deep groundwater and potential subsurface habitats beneath an Antarctic dry valley

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  • J. A. Mikucki, University of Tennessee
  • ,
  • E. Auken
  • S. Tulaczyk, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • ,
  • R. A. Virginia, Dartmouth College
  • ,
  • C. Schamper, Université Pierre et Marie Curie
  • ,
  • K. I. Sørensen, Aarhus University
  • ,
  • P. T. Doran, Louisiana State University (LSU)
  • ,
  • H. Dugan, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
  • ,
  • N. Foley, University of California, Santa Cruz, Denmark
The occurrence of groundwater in Antarctica, particularly in the ice-free regions and along the coastal margins is poorly understood. Here we use an airborne transient electromagnetic (AEM) sensor to produce extensive imagery of resistivity beneath Taylor Valley. Regional-scale zones of low subsurface resistivity were detected that are inconsistent with the high resistivity of glacier ice or dry permafrost in this region. We interpret these results as an indication that liquid, with sufficiently high solute content, exists at temperatures well below freezing and considered within the range suitable for microbial life. These inferred brines are widespread within permafrost and extend below glaciers and lakes. One system emanates from below Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney and a second system connects the ocean with the eastern 18km of the valley. A connection between these two basins was not detected to the depth limitation of the AEM survey (∼350m).
Original languageEnglish
Article number6831
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2015

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