Articles | Volume 16, issue 12
Brief communication
16 Dec 2022
Brief communication |  | 16 Dec 2022

Brief communication: The hidden labyrinth: deep groundwater in Wright Valley, Antarctica

Hilary A. Dugan, Peter T. Doran, Denys Grombacher, Esben Auken, Thue Bording, Nikolaj Foged, Neil Foley, Jill Mikucki, Ross A. Virginia, and Slawek Tulaczyk

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Cited articles

Armitage, K. and House, H.: A limnological reconnaissance in the area of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, Limnol. Oceanogr., 7, 36–41,, 1962. a
Auken, E., Christiansen, A. V., Kirkegaard, C., Fiandaca, G., Schamper, C., Behroozmand, A. A., Binley, A., Nielsen, E., Effersø, F., Christensen, N. B., Sørensen, K., Foged, N., and Vignoli, G.: An overview of a highly versatile forward and stable inverse algorithm for airborne, ground-based and borehole electromagnetic and electric data, Explor. Geophys., 46, 223–235,, 2015. a
Campen, R., Kowalski, J., Lyons, W. B., Tulaczyk, S., Dachwald, B., Pettit, E., Welch, K. A., and Mikucki, J. A.: Microbial diversity of an Antarctic subglacial community and high-resolution replicate sampling inform hydrological connectivity in a polar desert, Environ. Microbiol., 21, 2290–2306,, 2019. a
Carlson, C. A., Phillips, F. M., Elmore, D., and Bentley, H. W.: Chlorine-36 tracing of salinity sources in the Dry Valleys of Victoria Land, Antarctica, Geochim. Cosmochim. Ac., 54, 311–318,, 1990. a
Cartwright, K. and Harris, H. J. H.: Hydrogeology of the Dry Valley region, Antarctica, in: Dry Valley Drilling Project, Antarctic Research Series 33, edited by: McGinnis, L. D., 33, 193–214 pp., American Geophysical Union, Washington DC, USA,, 1981. a, b
Short summary
In the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, a deep groundwater system has been hypothesized to connect Don Juan Pond and Lake Vanda, both surface waterbodies that contain very high concentrations of salt. This is unusual, since permafrost in polar landscapes is thought to prevent subsurface hydrologic connectivity. We show results from an airborne geophysical survey that reveals widespread unfrozen brine in Wright Valley and points to the potential for deep valley-wide brine conduits.