Taylor Dome Ice Core Project

List of Taylor Dome Publications
Satellite view and map of Antarctica showing location of Taylor Dome.

Please read the introduction and background information below before using.
FIGURE (right) Oxygen Isotope Data from Stable Isotope Laboratory, University of Washington


Taylor Dome is a local ice-accumulation area that is part of the East Antarctic ice sheet. It is a ridge about 20 x 80 km just inland of the Transantarctic Mountains and provides ice to outlet glaciers entering Taylor Valley and McMurdo Sound. By historical accident, Taylor Dome has also been referred to as "McMurdo Dome"; "Taylor Dome" is now the official name (see Waddington et al., 1994).

Research at Taylor Dome, and on the ice cores retrieved from the site by the University of Washington group, has grown into a multi-institution efforts that also includes researchers at the University of New Hampshire, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Ohio State University, the University of Colorado, the University of Texas, the University of Miami, the University of Bern, Switzerland, the University of Texas, the University of Pennsylvania and Washington State University.


The Taylor Dome ice core is only the second core (after Vostok) to provide a stratigraphically undisturbed record through the entire last glacial cycle (that is, the last 130,000 years or more) (Grootes et al., 1994; Malaize et al., 1994; Steig et al., 1999). It has the advantage over many other Antarctic cores in being relatively shallow (554 meters), meaning that gas bubbles trapped in the ice have not reached pressures sufficient to cause significant clathrate formation, even for ice that is pre-Holocene (greater than ~11,000 years) in age. This has enabled researchers at Bern, Switzerland and at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, to obtain what are likely the best CO2 and delta 13C of CO2 measurements ever made of the ancient atmosphere. Two papers (Smith et al.; Indermuhle et al.) currently in review in Nature detail these results. Other gas measurements made on the Taylor Dome core include delta 18Oatm and CH4, achieved by Cara Sucher and Michael Bender of University of Rhode Island (Bender is now at Princeton) and Ed Brook (Washington State University). The high-resolution CH4 measurements permit determination of changes in the interhemispheric methane gradient, which Brook and others (in review) use to examine the latitudinal distribution of methane sources in the past. These data also provide a means to date the core by comparison with the layer-counted gas chronologies from the central Greenland ice cores. Steig, Brook and others (1998b) combined these data with high resolution 10Be and deuterium isotope (delta D) profiles to date the Taylor Dome core over the last glacial-interglacial transition. Their results demonstrate that Taylor Dome has a strong "Greenland"-style climate signal, including the rapid warming event that marks the end of the last glacial period and the Bølling-Allerød/Younger Dryas oscillation. This result contrasts with evidence from ice cores in other regions of Antarctica, which show an asynchronous response between the northern and southern hemispheres (Blunier et al., 1998; White and Steig, 1998), and has important implications for our understanding of climate forcing mechanisms. While dating the rest of the Taylor Dome ice core to high-precision has not yet been achieved, the full oxygen isotope stratigraphy (Grootes et al., 1999; Steig et al., 1999) shows many features similar to those in central Greenland, including (apparently) the Dansgaard-Oeschger events. Other measurements made on the Taylor Dome core include major ion and methanesulfonic acid concentrations, discussed in Mayewski et al. (1996), Stager and Mayewski, 1997) and Steig et al., (1998c), and dust concentrations (E. Mosely-Thompson et al., in prep.).


Work at Taylor Dome began in the 1990-1991 austral summer season with site characterization through geophysical (ice-penetrating radar and surveying) and geochemical tools (analysis of samples from snow pits and shallow cores for visual and geochemical stratigraphy). Results from this earlier work may be found in several Antarctic Journal of the United States publications by Grootes, Steig, Morse and Waddington, in the NATO ASI series volume Ice in the Climate System (Waddington et al., 1993), and in two PhD theses (Steig, 1996; Morse, 1997). Comprehensive reviews will appear in early 1999 in Geografiska Annaler (Morse et al., 1999; Steig et al., 1999).

Drilling at Taylor Dome began in 1991-1992, with the retrieval of two four-inch cores, one (M1C3, 130 m long) near the center of the Dome, the other (M1C2, 100 m) at "Taylor Mouth" where Taylor Dome grades into the head of Taylor Glacier. High resolution measurements on the M1C3 core confirmed the potential for obtaining interpretable geochemical records at Taylor Dome. Deep drilling by the Polar Ice Coring Office (PICO) at Taylor Dome successfully reached bedrock at a depth of 554 meters during the 1993-1994 austral summer season at latitude 77º47'47'' S, longitude 158º43'26'' E, elevation 2365 m above sea level). The core (M3C1) was sampled lightly in the field and at McMurdo Station's Crary Laboratory for stable and cosmogenic isotopes and physical properties (crystal size, density). Preliminary results were reported in several Antarctic Journal publications and American Geophysical Union abstracts.

Taylor Dome Data

These published data are provided for Taylor Dome researchers and other interested parties. They may be used freely but only if reference is made to the original publications listed at the top of each file. These data sets supercede any unofficial data that may have been distributed earlier. Identical data sets are (or will be) available via the National Geophysical Data Center. Click here to get to the data.