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Dropping ice chunks down a borehole in Antarctica: What does it sound like?

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What does it sound like when you drop a chunk of ice down a deep borehole in an Antarctic glacier? Pew pew.

Dr. Peter Neff shared this 2018 video after his team collected ice core samples from 90 meters (around 295 feet) deep in the glacier during a US National Science Foundation-funded expedition led by the University of Rochester’s Ice Core Lab.

The resulting sounds are like the pew-pew “laser” sound effects from a science fiction movie. While linking to a paper about Borehole Acoustic Waves, he summarized:

The “ping” is the most direct #sound of the ice hitting the borehole bottom (“transmitter”), ensuing acoustic waves are the “heartbeat… TL;DR version…
1) As ice scrapes down hole, Doppler effect decreases sound frequency
2) “Ricochet” is sound of ice hitting bottom coming up at varying speed
3) “Heartbeat” is set by 320 m/sec speed of sound reverberating up/down hole.

borehole acoustic waves
Related reading from Professor Mark Bocko and their Rochester colleagues: Why does ice make that sound?


And why do scientists drill deep holes in the ice? Like time capsules, Antarctic ice core samples contain minuscule bubbles that can tell us the composition of Earth’s ancient atmosphere. From Ancient Ice:

Year after year (800,000 years if we’re talking Antarctica), snow compacts under its own weight forming strata that encapsulate the space—the air—between flake structures. “And these [ice cores] are perfect samples of past atmospheres…”

The drilling and examination of glacial ice core samples from Greenland and now Taylor Glacier, Antarctica, allow scientists… to hypothesize the continuity of spikes in global temperatures as anthropogenic (human-caused) and natural ecological shifts occur.

It looks like they have some fun, too:

Watch these related ice and sound videos next:
• Why does a frozen lake sound like a Star Wars blaster?
• The Sound of Ice: Skating on thin black ice makes sci-fi movie laser sounds
• What’s In a 20,000 Year-Old Cube of Ice?
Ice Cores – Measuring Earth’s atmosphere from 20,000 years ago

h/t Boing Boing.

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