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. 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. 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.

The current logistics timeline has the first traverse to Hercules Dome starting no sooner than the 2025/2026 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 2024

The 2024 Ice Core Early Career Researchers Workshop (ICECReW) will be held May 14-15 in Portland, Maine. ICECReW is a professional development workshop for early-career researchers. It is being held in person for 1.5 days before the 3rd US Ice Core Open Science Meeting (May 15-17). This year’s ICECReW theme is exploring career opportunities within and outside of academia. The workshop will focus on developing and getting feedback on application materials such as CVs, research statements, teaching statements, and cover letters. Application Deadline: February 9, 2024.

US Ice Core Community Meeting (IceCOMM)

The third annual US Ice Core Community Meeting (IceCOMM) will be held May 15-17, 2024, at the Portland Public Library in beautiful Portland, Maine. 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. Details on hotel rooms, travel support, and other aspects of the meeting will be publicized in February 2024. To ensure you do not miss announcements, we recommend joining the Hercules Dome mailing list.

More Information

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.

View Webinar

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.

View Webinar

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.

More Information