Feasibility of instrumental detection of meteorites in Antarctica
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
Currently the most effective method of detecting meteorites in Antarctica is by eye. An investigation has been made of the feasibility of locating Antarctica meteorites by use of magnetic and/or electromagnetic means, as commonly used in other areas of geophysics. It is found that Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a promising candidate for detection of solid bodies buried within the ice to at depths around 1m, and would thus be an effective approach to locating meteorites at the bottom of cryoconites. The expected detection limits of a GPR system has been calculated for the conditions expected in Antarctic meteorite stranding sites with cryoconites, and a study of the optimum instrument configuration was performed. For meteorites very near to the surface, such as under a thin cover of snow, GPR is limited by surface clutter. Magnetometers are proposed as a more effective detection method, and an initial look at the important parameters of a magnetometer-bases system was undertaken to determine if further study is warranted in that area. The advantages and disadvantages of GPR is discussed, and compared to the effectiveness of the current visual detection method. While it is concluded that the GPR systems (and potentially magnetometer) will allow the detection of large numbers of meteorites that are currently going unnoticed, it is also noted that the search efficiency and collection rates would likely not improve using these technologies, and thus they are unlikely to be implemented in the near future.