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Victoria University Antarctic Research Expedition Science and Logistics Reports 1984-85: VUWAE 29


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The CIROS drilling project, which is attempting to obtain a record of the early history of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and the rise of the Transantarctic Mountains by offshore drilling in McMurdo Sound, dominated the University field programme. Dr. Peter Barrett and Mr. Alex Pyne, with graduate students Jeff Ashby, Tony Macpherson, Barbara Ward and Ian Wright, flew with the 16-man drilling team to Scott Base in late August, but unseasonally thin ice, bad weather and equipment failures reduced the programme. Nevertheless, one hole, CIROS 2, was successfully drilled to basement 167 m below the sea floor with good core recovery. The core appears to represent 7 glacial advances over the last 4 million years. The core will be studied in more detail over the next year to improve the chronology and climatic interpretation.

Field work for Tony Macpherson's PhD study of Granite Harbour sedimentation was completed this year with a further glacier survey, collection of wind-blown dust from the sea ice and the setting and retrieval of sediment traps in water depths to 800 m. The sediment trap work was carried out in conjunction with a Rice University group carrying out a similar survey of sedimentation rates in McMurdo Sound. Dr. Brad Pillans, Department of Geology, with a special interest in Quaternary processes, assisted with this and the CIROS core logging.

Three other groups from VUW all worked on some aspect of the structural history of the Transantarctic Mountains: Dr. Russell Korsch and Annette George took detailed measurements and samples of basement rocks in the Dry Valleys to establish the history prior to 400 million years ago. Paul Fitzgerald, accompanied by Des Patterson, completed the mapping of major faults and sampling to determine uplift rates for the Transantarctic Mountains in South Victoria Land by apatite fission-track dating. This joint PhD project with the University of Melbourne has already identified the main fault zone and has established that most of the uplift took place over the last 50 million years. The third group, geophysics students Jean Olson and Richard Kellett, worked as part of the West German Expedition to North Victoria Land, investigating the gross structure of this part of the Transantarctic Mountains by magnetic and gravity surveys. In addition to the above, Dr. John Gamble, Department of Geology, joined a U.S. party led by Dr. Phil Kyle (ex-VUW) to look for fragments of the deep crust in the volcanic rocks of McMurdo Sound.