An Iowa State University researcher has built a special machine to help chart the movement of glaciers. Neal Iverson, a professor of geological and atmospheric sciences, worked for three years to build this one-of-a-kind machine that’s nine feet tall.
“The ice inside the machine is shaped like a great big donut. It’s about three feet in its outside diameter and it’s inside diameter — it’s about one-and-a-half feet,” he says. “So imagine this donut-shaped piece of ice in there. It’s about a foot tall.”
Iverson will drag that “donut-ring” of ice across a rocky surface and across surfaces with soil sediments — to measure how quickly the ice moves across different kinds of surfaces. This mimics the movement of glaciers in the real world as they melt and pass over the earth below. It will provide first-of-their-kind readings that may help researchers investigating sea level changes.
Iverson hopes researchers from around the globe come to his lab in Ames to conduct experiments. Iverson got interested in the subject because much of the topography of modern-day Iowa was formed by glaciers.