antarctica team twinotter



Meet the People



Project Overview



Antarctic Information

The Gamburtsev Mountains

Subglacial Lakes

Ice Cores

Greenland Test Season

Meet the People


Outreach Events

Blogs & Stories




British Antarctic Survey

Australian Antarctic Division










Many of the people you will meet below are geophysicists. Geophysicists use physical techniques to study the internal structure and dynamic behavior of the Earth and its environment. They often study the Earth using gravity, magnetic, electrical, and seismic methods.

Meet the British Antarctic Survey Team and the Australia Antarctic Division Team at AGAP N

U. S. Team In the Field

Robin Bell is a geophysicist who uses remote sensing tools to study parts of the world that are invisible to the rest of us. Using light and sound to penetrate ice and water geophysicists can 'see' through to what lies below these landscapes. Early in my career as a scientist, I worked on adapting technology developed for use in the oceans, into airborne applications. Prior to this project I have used aircraft to study inaccessible regions in the ice covered region of Antarctica,  coordinating seven major Antarctic aero-geophysical expeditions. I work at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, studying the mechanisms of ice sheet collapse, the dynamics of rift flank uplift and the origin of sub-glacial lakes and mountains and their hidden ecosystems.

Adrienne Block is a graduate student in the Earth & Environmental Sciences at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. After the AGAP mission flights, I will assess the quality of the incoming data by processing radar signals into images of the Ice Sheet’s interior layers all the way down to bedrock. My broad research interests are Ice Sheets and Ice Ages. This expedition can answer some fundamental questions as to how the East Antarctic Ice Sheet started to form as well as what the bedrock and distribution of water look like underneath it today. Exploring the base of the Ice is crucial for understanding its long-term stability in a warming climate. In 2004, I traveled to the Ross Sea, Antarctica on the Research Vessel-Ice Breaker Nathaniel B Palmer, exploring the evidence of past glaciations and volcanism on the seafloor but the GAMBIT mission will be my first experience living on the Ice. I will be filming and blogging while in Antarctica with the GAMBIT project.

David Braaten is Deputy Director of the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS). Although trained as an atmospheric scientist my work extends to remote sensing, and glaciology (the study of ice). My work focuses on instrument development, conducting airborne and surface-based field experiments (mainly in Greenland and Antarctica), and validating the field measurements using ice core analyses, snow pit data sets and numerical weather forecast model data. I studies the ice sheet response to global warming, the current mass balance of the ice sheets, and the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise.


Beth Burton is a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey. I have extensive field experience in the application of multiple surface-based geophysical methods including seismic, resistivity, magnetic, ground penetrating radar, and electromagnetic induction to help solve various environmental and engineering problems. My most recent projects include dam and levee geologic characterization, ground-water contamination mapping, and aiding in the development of large-scale ground-water models. I will be filming and blogging while in Antarctica with the AGAP/GAMBIT project


nickNick Frearson, is a senior engineer with the British Antarctic Survey [BAS] in Cambridge, England, who joined the AGAP/GAMBIT team at Lamont in April 2007 on a 2 year sabbatical from BAS to project manage/engineer/make the tea as part of the airborne geophysics installation being taken to Antarctica this field season. At BAS I manage the engineering group responsible for providing and maintaining the BAS Airborne Geophysics installation and have spent several seasons in the field in both the north and south polar regions supporting it. I will be in overall charge of the operation and maintenance of the Airborne Geophysical Instrumentation being deployed into the deep field at AGAP South by the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory scientists, and will be involved in analyzing the ice penetrating radar data that will be collected. I am proud to be a part of this multi-national science project born out of the International Polar Year, and visiting one of the most inaccessible regions of the last unexplored continent on our planet.

chris McMannChris McMinn, is an undergraduate Electrical Engineering student at the University of Kansas,who began working with the AGAP/GAMBIT team in September 2008 as a technical attaché from the Center for the Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS). Though the majority of my degree work is towards Electrical Engineering I spend most of my time in software development and system administration. I am responsible for maintaining the computer systems involved with the airborne radar being deployed to Antarctica by the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory. Along with maintaining the computer systems, I am developing software to manage and process the data generated by the airborne radar. I feel privilege to participate in the International Polar Year as part of the multi national expedition to study Antarctica's Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountain Range, and to have explored one of the most remote places on earth.

Michael Studinger is a geophysicist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Using airborne geophysics I study physical processes in the polar regions linking tectonics, ice sheet dynamics and life in extreme environments. I am particularly fascinated by basal ice sheet processes and how they impact the long-term evolution and stability of continental ice sheets. A large part of my time was dedicated to designing and building the aerogeophysical system we use for this campaign and launching an international project of this size. I have spent many weeks in the remote East Antarctica gathering data on subglacial Lake Vostok, and subglacial lakes remain a strong focus in my research.

German Partners in the Field

Detlef Damaske currently leads the polar research group at the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) in Hannover, Germany. For more than 25 years I have been actively involved in geophysical research projects in the Antarctic, tallying 17 expeditions since 1981, and in the Arctic with 6 expeditions since 1997. My major field of work is aeromagnetic investigations (i.e. studying the magnetic field of rocks of the Earth's crust), contributing to deciphering the geological (tectonic) history in both polar regions. Most of these project involved an international collaboration. I chair the overarching IPY lead project which under the same acronym "AGAP" pulls together GAMBIT, GigaGAP, ICECAP, GAMSEIS. I am German chief representative for the SCAR Geoscience Standing Scientific Group and member of the SCAR Expert group ADMAP (Antarctic Digital MApping Project) and Action group SIGE (Sub-Ice Geological Exploration).

Felix Goldmann is a surveyor for the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), operating airborne data acquisition (magnetic, radar, gravimetric, GPS) for the team. I have worked in Antarctic on two previous science research missions, in 2003 with USAP/BGR “CTAM”, and 2005 with BGR “GANOVEX 9”. I enjoy tackling these unique polar projects but it is always difficult to be far away from my family. The AGAP project adds the unique challenge of working under extreme conditions on one of the most complex Antarctic programs ever!


Sander Specialists in the Field

Sander Geophysics Ltd. has a team coming from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to support the operations of some of the specialized equipment being used in the very extreme conditions of the project.

Martin Bates has worked for Sander Geophysics Ltd. (SGL), which is providing the AIRGrav airborne gravimeter, for over 14 years as a geophysicist. I am currently the Manager of Data Processing at SGL. I hold a B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Durham, England and a Ph.D. in palaeomagnetism from the University of Leeds, England. Before joining Sander Geophysics, I worked as a research fellow at the University of Toronto, Canada, and the University of Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe. I will assist with the the installation and testing of the AIRGrav airborne gravimeter in McMurdo.


Stefan Elieff is a senior geophysicist with Sander Geophysics. I studied physics at St. Francis Xavier University and hold an M.Sc. in Astronomy from Saint Mary's University, both in Nova Scotia, Canada. I have worked closely with the AIRGrav system since its first survey in 1999, and have participated in the system test flights over the North Pole in 2007 and over the Greenland ice sheet in 2008 leading up to the 2008-2009 Antarctic field season. I will be responsible for the operation of the gravimeter as well as the field verification and reduction of its data.


Daniel Geue has been a technician with Sander Geophysics for 12 years and has worked extensively with the AIRGrav airborne gravimeter from its early development. I will be working to ensure the smooth functioning of the gravimeter throughout the project and assisting with its operation.


Stateside Partners

Mark Fahnestock is a research scientist at CSRC/EOS, University of New Hampshire who has been studying ice sheets for a number of years. I am not going to the deep field this time – but have been there 3 times before, including to the East Antarctic Plateau.  I have have spent numerous field seasons working in the poles including glaciers in Greenland and Alaska. For this project I will be supporting the planning and field work with data from satellites.  I will be looking at the data returned, from the ice penetrating radar and other instruments, to help develop an understanding of conditions within and under the ice. It is amazing to be involved in the exploration of the most remote and poorly understood land area remaining on Earth – we can only guess what we will find.

Carol Finn is a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey. I use magnetic data collected by plane to look at rocks lying under the ice AND under the Earth's crust, to study how the Earth's plates move. This field of study is called Aeromagnetics. I have studied both sides of the Antarctic continent, and has spent many field seasons down there. This time I will remain stateside providing valuable support reviewing data as it is available and problem solving. You can read an interview with Carol Finn from 2002.


Malcolm LeCompte is the Research Director for the Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Education and Research at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. Trained as an atmospheric scientist, I currently work with my students at Elisabeth City on heat flow data from Antarctica. I am interested in glacial mass balance questions (are the Antarctic glaciers loosing or gaining in size) and will be engaging my students in working with the data that is collected during the field program.


Margie Turrin is an education coordinator at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. I am involved in developing geoscience data based activities for high school and undergraduate students, and science outreach activities for all ages.  I run field based learning experiences for students and teachers connecting science and its concepts to real world application.  I will be working on developing data activities that extend this research project to schools and informal education venues.

This project funded through NSF Antarctic Research Grants #ANT 0632292; ANT 0619457| contact us | web master
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