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Deep Ice-Core Drilling Project DK-1 at Dome A, East Antarctica


Dome A or Dome Argus is the highest ice feature in Antarctica with max elevation of 4,093 m a.s.l., located 1,200 km inland. It is thought to be the coldest naturally occurring place on Earth. On January 27, 2009 the Chinese Kunlun Station (80°25¢01² S, 77°06¢58² E), was officially opened 7.3 km southwest of Dome A at elevation of 4,087 m a.s.l., the highest among all research stations. Ice thickness at Kunlun Station is estimated to be 3139 m. Horizontal movement of the ice is minimal and the snow accumulation rate is as low as 16 mm w.e. Estimation of a depth–temperature distribution with a steady-state ice-dynamics model indicates that the ice at 3100 m depth might be >1.1Ma old, with a temperature of –8.4°C. Thus, the main target of the drilling project is to reach deepest and supposedly oldest ice near the base of the ice sheet for paleoclimate reconstruction.

3D Model of Antarctic Ice Sheet with locations of Chinese Kunlun and Zhongshan stations

Ice surface and subglacial topography in the central

30 km×30 km region at Dome A [Cui Xiangbin et al., 2010]

Deep ice-core drilling project DK-1 at Kunlun station was started in 2010-2011 season. The design of the electromechanical CHINARE/JARE deep ice drill is similar to that of the JARE deep drill used at Dome F, except for the size of the chip chamber, the anti-torque system and some other parts. n-Butyl acetate is used as drilling fluid. The progress of the drilling is quite slow because of the very short (only 3 weeks) working season at the station:

· 2010-2011 season: Drill site construction

· 2011-2012 season: Shallow drilling (120.8 m) and casing installation

· 2012-2013 season: Drilling equipment installation and deep drilling to 131.24 m

· 2014-2015 season: Deep drilling to 303.0 m

· 2015-2016 season: Deep drilling to 654.7 m

· 2016-2017 season: Deep drilling to 800.9 m

33 CHINARE drilling team at Dome A
(2016-2017 season)

The project is sponsored by Chinese Ocean Administration (project No CHINARE2014-02-02, CHINARE2015-02-02, CHINARE2016-02-02). Polar Research Center is involved to the project as copartner with PRIC as umbrella organization.

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