Antarctic Research


Mike Malin, MSSS President, began research in Antarctica during the 1982-1983 austral summer, while a member of the faculty in the Department of Geology at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. This page, and references within, illustrate aspects of this research effort.


The Antarctic environment is particularly harsh, but recent studies suggest that the absence of significant amounts of liquid water allow landscapes to be preserved for significantly longer than found elsewhere on Earth, and indeed longer than previously thought. Malin's study is designed to establish, over a timescale relatively long for human activity (~50 years), the effects of chemical and physical weathering on naturally occuring materials in many different microenvironments in the Antarctic ice-free valleys.

Eleven sites were established ten years ago by deploying over 6000 individual samples of well characterized rock materials ranging in physical properties from soft non-welded pyroclastic tuff to extremely hard, fine-grained dolerite and coarse-grained granite. Samples were deployed on racks above the surface, on the surface, and beneath the surface, to accumulate the effects of chemical and physical processes over many years. Included are 2.5 cm diameter, 0.5 thick disks of rocks deployed at 7, 14, 21, 35, and 70 cm above the surface and facing N, E, S, and W, 8 cm cubes, and 5 cm long by 2.5 cm diameter cylinders.

Samples have been returned after one year exposure and five years exposure. The purpose of 1994's effort was to recover materials that have been exposed for ten years. Samples remain in place that can be recovered later, nominally after 15, 20, 30, 40, and 50 years.

This research was and is supported by the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Program.

Papers Reporting Results of Antarctic Research Program

Gallery of GIFS and MPEGS from Austral Summer 1993-1994

During the 1993-1994 field season, a set of images were recorded, digitized, and transmitted to MSSS from McMurdo Station over the Internet. Both video and still frames were recorded during field trips using a Sony Hi8 video camera, and digitized back at McMurdo using a video capture board in an Apple Macintosh Quadra 950. The frames were then transferred to a Sun SPARCstation for compression using the Berkeley MPEG encoder. The final products were then ftp'd to MSSS, where they were assembled in HTML form and put on the WWW server.

Return to MSSS Home Page