Menu Buried Ice Share

Our Goal

Our goal is to digitally capture and display one of the oldest, most remote, and untouched places on Earth in all it's detail and glory. We want to help bridge the gap between science and art, and create media that is both visually fascinating and scientifically robust. The ultra high resolution imagery used in the Buried Ice Virtual Tour offers a chance for everyone to explore and experience Antarctica, while giving experts and researchers a new perspective and tool to conduct science. We hope both scientists and non-scientists alike will explore these landscapes and help uncover the many great mysteries of the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

The Dry Valleys

Protected by the Transantarctica mountains, the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica are some of coldest, dryest, and windiest places on Earth with relative humidity as low as 7%, wind speeds exceeding 100 mph, and temperatures as low as -85°F(-65°C). Some of these valleys are so cold and dry that over millions of years the massive glaciers have sublimated away, evaporating from ice straight to air, bringing to the surface ancient rocks once trapped within the glacier. The valley floors are now covered with magnificent wind-blown rocks, boulders, and sand, but underneath there are pockets of ancient volcanic ash and the oldest glacier ice on Earth. This region is the closest analog to Mars on Earth, and allows us to better understand the climate history of Mars in addition to Earth's climate history for the past 15 million years.

The Imagery

The Buried Ice Virtual Tour consists of over 100 high-res and ultra high-res (gigapixel) panoramic images and videos. Each panoramic image has between 24 to 4000 individual photos stitched together to create an immersive never-before-seen look at this unique landscape. Incorporated into these panoramas are beautiful videos, timelapse photography, and photos taken during our two month adventure exploring this region. If printed at full resolution, some of these panoramas could wrap around an entire football stadium without any loss of detail. Follow Keith Heyward's Buried Ice blog for information about how he created some of these images.

The Experience

Filmmakers Keith Heyward and Jennie Berglund joined geologists, Dave Marchant and Sean Mackay, on their 2013 expedition through the McMurdo Dry Valleys. Together they lived for two months in sub-zero temperatures with no heat, no showers, and no protection against the harsh climate except for a couple of tents. Their adventure is described here by Jennifer Berglund in her feature article in Discover Magazine.

The Team

Keith Heyward is a filmmaker, photographer, scientist, and the creator of During his 10 weeks of working in Antarctica in 2013, Keith took over 150,000 photos and videos, which are now compiled into the panoramas, timelapses, and videos found within On Christmas day, he took advantage of the good weather (i.e. 0˚F and 2mph winds) and hiked 15 miles down Beacon Valley to the Taylor Glacier headwall to capture many of the panoramas seen here.

In addition to his work in Antarctica, he has created videos, websites, and interactive experiences for a variety of organizations including the BBC, NHK Enterprises, Discovery Channel, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, the UCLA Monkey Project, Prehensile Productions, and many more. He holds a B.Sc. in Biology from Brown University and has extensive experience as a scientific researcher around the world. See more of his work at

Jennifer Berglund is an award-winning writer, producer and photographer. She has produced educational, promotional and documentary films for many clients, including the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Facts on File, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has written for national publications like Nature Outlook and Discover Magazine, including this featured article about the Antarctic Dry Valleys. In addition to writing this article, she assisted in both the filmmaking and scientific research while in Antarctic. She holds a B.A. in Biology and a M.S. in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University.

Sean Mackay (PhD Candidate) holds a M.S. in Environmental Management from Oxford University, a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Music from Southern Methodist University, and has worked several years as an environmental consultant prior to joining BU in applied research. His specific research focuses on developing a more complete understanding of the processes that govern the evolution and modification of polar debris-covered glaciers, with a specific focus on the potentially extremely ancient buried glaciers in the highest-elevation regions with Antarctica's Dry Valleys and application to buried ice on Mars. Sean is also the senior visualization specialist for the BU ES Digital Imagery and Analysis Laboratory (DIAL).