Trillium 240 Produces Outstanding Results at -60 C

As the major initiative of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007 – 2009, Antarctica’s Gamburtsev Province Project (AGAP) investigates the Gamburtsev subglacial mountain range in the East Antarctic. Aerogeophysical surveys and ground-based seismological studies are being conducted by scientists from the United States, Germany, China, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan to better understand why a mountain system the size of the Alps is located in the middle of the continent. The mountain range is completely covered by 600m of ice and snow.

As part of AGAP, the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, designed GAMSEIS (Gamburtsev Antarctic Mountains Seismic Experiment) to determine what is driving the mountains upward and how they may have contributed to the formation of the East Antarctic Ice sheet.

In 2006-2007, Tim Parker, Polar Program Manager at IRIS/PASSCAL, tested two Nanometrics Trillium 240s as part of a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation program. The units performed very well. Hence, PASSCAL made the decision to order 20 more Trillium 240, unmodified, off-the-shelf, for deployment in the Antarctic.

Ten were installed for AGAP in 2007-2008. The experiment began in December 2007 and runs for a 2 year period. Dr. Patrick Shore, Research Scientist and Instructor at Washington University in St. Louis, described the installation of the Trillium 240 units as easy and straight forward using the bubble level, with no worries about mass locking and unlocking as Nanometrics seismometers have no mass lock. He also said the units are robust and traveled through several open-field (rough) take-offs and landings.

All stations were visited in the 2008-2009 Antarctic season. Dr. Shore said he is very pleased with the results. The units performed extremely well, providing consistent, reliable data, despite running all year in temperatures below -60C. “We had a data return of approximately 88% which is remarkable considering the conditions. We install these sites in the highest region of the Antarctic Continent (average elevation 3500m).”

The sensors are still in place and will continue to gather data for another year. Nine Trillium 240s were also deployed during the 2007-2008 Antarctic season at stations in West Antarctic for The Polar Earth Observing Network (POLENET). This project is designed to gather data for information on the recent mass changes to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its affects on global sea level. Personnel from Washington University in St. Louis and the PASSCAL Instrument Center serviced five stations from November 28, 2008 to February 2009. Units are running well and producing consistent, reliable data. The Polenet program will continue until 2012.

For more information on AGAP and POLENET, please link to the following:

AGAP/GAMSEIS at Washington University in St. Louis