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Open AccessArticle

Laser Ultrasound Observations of Mechanical Property Variations in Ice Cores

Environmental Seismology Laboratory, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83275, USA
Department of Geosciences, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83275, USA
The Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies, Department of Physics, University of Auckland, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Climate Change Institute and School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04460, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 47;
Received: 1 May 2017 / Revised: 14 June 2017 / Accepted: 21 June 2017 / Published: 24 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cryosphere)
The study of climate records in ice cores requires an accurate determination of annual layering within the cores in order to establish a depth-age relationship. Existing tools to delineate these annual layers are based on observations of changes in optical, chemical, and electromagnetic properties. In practice, no single technique captures every layer in all circumstances. Therefore, the best estimates of annual layering are produced by analyzing a combination of measurable ice properties. We present a novel and complimentary elastic wave remote sensing method based on laser ultrasonics. This method is used to measure variations in ultrasonic wave arrival times and velocity along the core with millimeter resolution. The laser ultrasound system does not require contact with the ice core and is non-destructive. Custom optical windows allow the source and receiver lasers to be located outside the cold room, while the core is scanned by moving it with a computer-controlled stage. We present results from Antarctic firn and ice cores that lack visual evidence of a layered structure, but do show travel-time and velocity variations. In the future, these new data may be used to infer stratigraphic layers from elastic parameter variations within an ice core, as well as analyze ice crystal fabrics. View Full-Text
Keywords: ice core; stratigraphy; anisotropy; laser ultrasonics; ice fabric ice core; stratigraphy; anisotropy; laser ultrasonics; ice fabric
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Mikesell, T.D.; Van Wijk, K.; Otheim, L.T.; Marshall, H.-P.; Kurbatov, A. Laser Ultrasound Observations of Mechanical Property Variations in Ice Cores. Geosciences 2017, 7, 47.

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