Yesterday we sampled cyanobacterial mats and water samples on the McMurdo Ice Shelf. We went for the day to an area near Bratina Island. In this area, the ice shelf is covered with a layer of sediment and hundreds of meltwater ponds can be found. During the summer they forms a large network of meltwater ponds and it has the most extensive microbial growth and largest non-marine biota in southern Victoria Land. It has been suggested that the area plays an important role as source for inocula through dispersal by winds into the more extreme regions such as the Dry Valleys.
Although some of the ponds are only several meters away from each other , they can have very different characteristics. A large range of salinities can be found in the area ranging from fresh to hypersaline.
McMurdo Ice Shelf and Bratina Island with Royal Society Range in the background
Temperature, conductivity and ph measurements at an hypersaline pond near Bratina Island. The pond is called Salt Pond and has thick white salt crust around the water edge.
Cyanobacterial mats with orange pigmented pinnacles