OSU helps spearhead search for world’s oldest ice

Wes Flow, News Contributor

The Oregon State University led Center for Oldest Ice Exploration is sending a 22 person team of researchers to Antarctica in a quest to find the world’s oldest ice.

According to a recent OSU press release, the COLDEX team intends to collect samples of the Antarctic ice, trapped inside which is a record of Earth’s climate history in the form of ancient dust particles and air bubbles. These samples, known as ice cores, are taken by drilling into the ice, in this case to a depth of several miles.

On the continent, the researchers will break up into three field teams. The first team, including OSU grad student Julia Marks Peterson, will be working in the Allan Hills of East Antarctica, where research two years ago located ice that was 2-3 million years old.

A second team will be working nearby with ground-penetrating radar, which will help researchers locate potential locations for future drilling. Finally, a third team based at the South Pole will collect data from the air, the release said.

The ice cores, once collected, will be transferred to the NSF Ice Core Facility in Denver. Sections of the cores are then sent to the labs of COLDEX researchers, where they conduct analysis to learn more about historical climate conditions.

COLDEX’s director is paleoclimatologist Ed Brook, distinguished professor of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at OSU. Besides OSU, the COLDEX also includes the National Science Foundation, American Meteorological Society, and 12 other universities nationwide, according to the COLDEX website.