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ANSMET 2014-2015 Field Season at Davis-Ward, Antarctica

View of Davis-Ward field area, Antarctica: 2014-2015 ANSMET.

2014-2015 ANSMET Team Members
Ralph Harvey*, Prinicpal Investigator/field team leader of 23 previous seasons, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
John Schutt*, mountaineer and field safety officer since 1980, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
Jim Karner*, Co-Principal Investigator, Case Western Reserve University, Ohio
Brian Rougeux*, assistant mountaineer
Ryan Zeigler*, NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas
Shannon Walker, NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas
Christine Floss, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
Devon Burr, University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Vinciane Debaille*, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
            Veterans of previous Antarctic work are marked with an asterisk (*).

The 38th season of the Antarctic Search for Meteorities (ANSMET) Program brought the 9-person team to the icefields surrounding the Davis Nunataks and Mount Ward. Situated in the southern headwaters of the Beardmore Glacier, these icefields have been explored, in part, by four previous ANSMET teams who collected over 1000 meteorites. The 2014-2015 team searched the ice by snowmobiles and the moraines (glacial deposits of accumulated dirt and rocks) on foot, posting a record-breaking collection of 172 meteorites in one day on a moraine for a grand total collection of 562 for the season.

The team found nearly 60% of the meteorites on the moraines and most of the other specimens from the ice within a few hundred meters of a moraine. The photo on the left shows the contrast between rocky moraine and snow-dusted ice field and the obvious differences in surface color, brightness, and texture. Where would you rather look for black, fusion-crusted meteorites? Required ANSMET skill: knowing how to distinguish meteorites from terrestrial rocks on a moraine! Each red flag marks the location where they found at least one meteorite. Each meteorite was located with GPS precision, photographed on site, then collected and bagged with a unique identification number. The photo on the right shows the Davis-Ward area.

ANSMET is a NASA-funded program meeting the strong scientific demand for new extraterrestrial specimens. NASA and the Smithsonian Institution share the responsibilities of classifying, storing, and distributing Antarctic meteorites to researchers around the globe. Details of curation, characterization, and allocation of the ANSMET meteorites are available from the NASA Johnson Space Center:

pdf link ANSMET 2014-2015 Field Season in the Davis-Ward icefields, Antarctica (pdf version)

For more information see: the ANSMET website, the February 2015 Antarctic Meteorite Newsletter, and the PSRD articles Meteorites on Ice and Searching Antarctic Ice for Meteorites.

Added March, 2015: NEW BOOK: 35 Seasons of U.S. Antarctic Meteorites (1976-2010): A Pictorial Guide to the Collection, edited by K. Righter, C. Corrigan, T. McCoy, and R. Harvey, American Geophysical Union and John Wiley & Sons, Inc., December 2014, 320 pages.

Written by Linda Martel, Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, for PSRD.

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February 2015