There are about 8 different stations in the freezer that make a certain measurement or make a special cut that will leave a portion of the ice for a specific research purpose. For example, one station uses a horizontal bandsaw to slice about 1/3 of the top portion of the core off to store in the archive. The reason to archive the SPICE core, or any ice core for that matter, is so that if scientists need or want to go back to a certain depth of the ice core for measurements, they have some ice available in the archive to use. With the rapid rate of technological advances in science, measurements or analysis that may not be possible in the next few years may be possible in a decade. Keeping a portion of the SPICE core in the archive allows for further analysis without having to go all the way back to the South Pole and drill an all new core. It saves a ton of money and shows just how much scientists are thinking about the future! Other measurements taking place on the SPICE core include electrical conductivity measurements. These measurements are non-destructive and show the changes in the acidity of the ice core. Acidity changes correspond to areas of volcanic activity. Actually, today we saw two different volcanic peaks! Two other non-destructive measurements made on the ice core during the CPL include high resolution imaging (also known as scanning) and visual inspection of the core under illumination to count any layering marks in the core. Several cuts are made to the remaining 2/3 of the ice core to create samples for trace gas analysis (my research group), chemistry analysis, water isotope analysis, and other isotope measurements. Even after all these samples are taken out of the core, a significant portion of the core remains in the archive for future analysis.
In addition to the volcanic peak excitement, at the end of the day we had a brief snowball fight from the snow created by the bandsaws cutting through the ice cores. We basically were using snow that was hundreds of years old to throw at each other! It was quite the fun.