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Antarctic Research Project
Drilling through Time

Bringing up deep sediment cores from under ice-covered seas at the edge of the Antarctic continent

Christina Riesselman

Christina Riesselman is a geology Ph.D. student from Stanford working on the ANDRILL (ANtarctic geological DRILLing) Southern McMurdo Sound project at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. This multinational scientific drilling project is bringing up deep cores of sediment from under ice-covered seas at the edge of the Antarctic continent. Christina and fifty-five other scientists and educators on the ANDRILL team study these cores to investigate climate change millions of years in the past. Christina’s job is to scrutinize the ancient muddy sediments with a microscope, looking for diatoms. Diatoms are abundant, single-celled marine organisms that leave behind beautiful shells of silica in a wide array of shapes and sizes. Each species of diatom has a story to tell about past environmental conditions and climate during its little window of geologic time. Christina traveled to Antarctic in October 2007 and sent photos of diatoms and her reports from mid-November until the ANDRILL project completed its season in December 2007. View the ANDRILL Webcasts to see and hear Christina and other scientists talk more about their work and what it’s revealing about past and future climate change.

Andrill Drill Andrill Drill Rig is located about an hour’s snowmobile ride from McMurdo Station. It’s sitting on top of 250 feet (85 m) of sea ice and the drill string itself must penetrate 2700 feet (900 m) of water and another 3855 feet (1285 m) of sediment to collect climate and geologic records that date back 15 million years.
Andrill Team The ANDRILL drilling rig is on sea ice, so the whole team went through “Happy Camper” school together and had some spare time to carve some ice. All scientists and support staff who travel from McMurdo Station out on the sea ice must go through an overnight training session on how to set up camp, build snow caves and walls, and prepare meals.
diatom Ancient diatoms from Andrill sediment core. Diatoms are like time machines that reveal whether the climate was warm or cold in the past.
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