Hercules Dome

Hercules Dome is located at ~86°S, 105°W, between the Horlick and Thiel Mountains, about 400 km from the South Pole. It was first identified as a promising site for a deep ice core on the basis of radar and shallow ice-core data collected by US International Trans‐Antarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) traverse in 2002-2003 (Jacobel and others, 2005).

Topographic map of Hercules Dome, showing the location in Antarctica. Map by Ben Hills, University of Washington.
Topographic map of Hercules Dome, showing the location in Antarctica. Map by Ben Hills, University of Washington. Hercules Dome Summit is called "West Dome" in some earlier publications.
Elevation profile and radar stratigraphy at West Dome collected by the site-selection team in 2019
Elevation profile and radar stratigraphy at West Dome collected by the site-selection team in 2019. Figure courtesy of Knut Christianson.

Hercules Dome actually comprises three distinct features, informally known as the “Hercules Dome Summit”, “East Dome” and “South Ridge”, which are anchored by subglacial ridges. Ongoing site-selection work with ice-penetrating radar, GPS surveys, and ice-flow modeling, show that Hercules Dome Summit is the best site (see Fudge et al. 2022 and Hills et al., in preparation, 2023).

Getting people and equipment to Hercules Dome for drilling is a major operation, which will likely involve at least one tractor-traverse all the way from McMurdo Station, about 1600 kilometers away. For much of the distance, we will be able to take advantage of the well-established route from McMurdo to South Pole.

Drilling is expected to begin at the earliest in the 2025/26 field season. View the project timeline for the latest schedule of anticipated activities. In the meanwhile, we’ll be working with the National Science Foundation, the Antarctic Support Contractor, and the U.S. Ice Drilling Program (IDP) engineers at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, in planning logistics.

Because drilling will not begin for a few years, there is ample time to consider getting involved in the science and in other aspects of the project.

ICECReW 2023

The Ice Core Early Career Researchers Workshop (ICECReW) is a professional development workshop for early-career researchers. It will be held in-person at the University of Washington on May 7-8, 2023, prior to the start of the 2nd US Ice Core Open Science Meeting (being held May 8-10). ICECReW participants will meet with established researchers to better understand the processes involved in envisioning, planning, and funding ice core projects. This year's workshop focuses on encouraging collaboration and generating proposal ideas. ICECReW is intended for ECRs whose work contributes to the drilling, processing, or interpretation of ice core data. Application Deadline: February 10, 2023.

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2nd US Ice Core Open Science Meeting

The second annual US Ice Core Open Science Meeting will be held May 8-10, 2023, at the beautiful Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. This meeting is intended for anyone interested in ice core science or related fields, including ice-core analysis, ice or subglacial drilling, glacier geophysics that supports or depends on ice core records, paleoclimate, and contemporary climate and ice sheet change. To ensure you do not miss announcements, we recommend joining the Hercules Dome mailing list. Registration and abstract submission is now open. Abstract Submission and Early Registration Deadline are March 15.

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Informational Webinars

The Hercules Dome lead team hosted two informational webinars on March 23 and March 31 that included Q&A sessions. The goal of the webinars was to provide more background on the project and answer questions from interested participants. A video recording of the informational webinar is available.

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Special Webinar Lecture

On April 15 at 5:00 pm London Time (12:00 pm Eastern, 9:00 am Pacific), we held a special webinar lecture by Professor Eric Wolff of Cambridge University entitled “New frontiers in Antarctic ice core research”. A video recording of Professor Eric Wolff's webinar lecture is available.

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Community Workshop & Science Planning Meeting

The first community workshop and science planning meeting took place on May 10-11, 2021, using a virtual platform. This was both a planning meeting and an open science meeting, which provided an opportunity to hear about some of the latest Antarctic ice core research, and to begin to develop new collaborations.

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