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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1970-71: VUWAE 15


Title Page


Wellington MARCH 1971

page break This report has been prepared for the benefit of the University Council of Victoria University, the University Research Grants Committee, the Ross Dependency Research Committee, and individuals who have assisted the Expedition in the execution of its research programme. It is not intended as a publication, and any scientific data contained herein may not be used or referred to in print without the express permission of the expedition leader and project leader concerned.
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Initial Planning.

In January 1970 Barrett and Kohn submitted a proposal to the VUW Antarctic Research Committee. A slightly modified plan was then submitted to the Ross Dependency Research Committee in March 1970 outlining the background, aims, organisation and field programme for VUWAE 15. The background and aims as submitted to the RDRC are shown below; for details of the proposed field programme see Appendix I.

VUWAE 15 Programme submitted to R.D.R.C.

This year's VUWAE expedition will concentrate on rocks of the Beacon and Ferrar Groups in several parts of southern Victoria Land. The stratigraphy of the Beacon Group in the Beacon Heights area has been described, and new formations defined, by McElroy (in press), and his work was extended in the 1968-69 season by McKelvey, Webb, Gorton and Kohn. It is intended that this year's expedition continue this work, extending the stratigraphy northward to the Mackay Glacier and southward to the Darwin Glacier. This will help establish a sound regional stratigraphic framework, a necessity for future petrologic and paleogeographic studies, and for regional geologic mapping.

The Beacon Group* is divided into two subgroups - the Devonian Taylor Subgroup, consisting largely of quartzose sandstone, and the Permian-Triassic Victoria Subgroup, consisting largely of feldspathic and lithic sandstone and containing coal measures. Tholeiitic basaltic rocks of the Ferrar Group, which intrude and overlie the Beacon, will also be examined.

Special emphasis will be placed on:-
(a)the basal units of the Taylor Subgroup, their relationship to each other and to the underlying basement complex;
(b)detailed collections of Devonian fish by a vertebrate paleontologist;
(c)the Late Paleozoic glacial beds (Metschel Tillite), their relationship to the underlying strata, their age, and the direction of paleo-ice movements;
(d)the collection of Beacon samples for detailed sedimentary petrography
(e)a search [gap — reason: illegible][unclear: organic] material in beds below the Maw son Formation;
(f)a layered dolerite sill at Mt. Warren and metamorphosed sediments in dolerite in the nearby Boomerang Range;
(g)The Kirkpatrick Basalt in the Allan Hills area, and its relationship with the underlying volcanogenic Mawson Formation.
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The Darwin Glacier area was visited by VUWAE 6 (in 1962), and strata from both Taylor and Victoria Subgroups were found. Also a TAE party discovered basaltic rocks at nearby Westhaven Nunatak. The VUWAE 15 expedition intends to carry out reconnaissance work with a view to planning for future work in the area, because the area includes large areas of previously unexamined exposures, and forms an important stratigraphic link between Beacon rocks of southern Victoria Land and the Beardmore Glacier area to the south.

Geologic information which will later be used for map compilation at a scale of 1:250, 000 (and 1:50, 000 in some areas) will be collected. The sheet covering the Skelton Neve (Mt. Harmsworth) will be almost completely covered this season. Only parts of the Convoy Range, Taylor Glacier, Carlyon Glacier, Turnstile Ridge and Mt. Olympus sheets will be mapped, but it is hoped that coverage of these sheets will be completed in future seasons.

Four parties, each consisting of a geologist and assistant, are planned for the programme. The areas of scientific responsibility for the parties are the Taylor Subgroup, the Devonian fish remains, the Victoria Subgroup, and the Ferrar Group. Two such parties, i.e. four men, will work in the Skelton Neve and the Darwin Mountains. In the Allan Hills and the Dry Valleys parties will work independently (see programme summary), as others have done in the past.

Further Planning

In mid-June a table of flight requirements, destination, number of persons involved and weights (weights were calculated from the DSIR field manual and included personnel weights) were submitted to Antarctic Division at their request (Appendix II). This plan was later passed on to Deep Freeze Headquarters by Antarctic Division. This first table was later supplemented by another giving precise dates for helicopter and Hercules support required, exact destination (in latitude and longitude), and approximate elevation of pick-up and put-in points. For Hercules landing sites, Kohn suggested two possible landing sites in the Skelton Neve, an area he had visited with the VUWAE 13 party. Barrett had the opportunity of discussing possible Hercules landing sites in the Darwin Mountains with Dr. J. Kennett, a member of VUWAE 6 (1962-63). The "most desirable" sites chosen by Kohn and Kennett proved suitable for Hercules landings.

During September 1970, Barrett prepared a reading list comprising important books and papers on Antarctic geology and also books and narratives of Antarctic expeditions from 1901 to 1970. A detailed set of notes on the measuring of sections was also prepared. The reading list and these notes were circulated to all members of the expedition. All members of the party also had the opportunity of measuring a "trial" section so that measuring techniques could be compared and standardised.

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Maps were provided by Antarctic Division at our request. Limited air photo coverage of areas to be visited were supplied by Denis Rainey from the Lands & Survey collections. Additional photos were requested from the U.S. Geological Survey in Washington through Antarctic Division. These arrived too late to be used in the field.

* now Beacon Supergroup (Barrett, 1970).