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Its all about having the logistics in place!

Above are pictures of 448 drums of fuel being deposited for the field season, representing 4 loads carried on a large C17 plane. This is part of what will be used to fuel the planes for this historic program. In planning for an airborne geophysics field program one quickly learns that the location and transport of the fuel for the planes carries a huge importance. The planning for the movement of drums of fuel became a central theme for what seemed like months on end. Was there enough fuel? Was the fuel in the right location? How could the fuel be moved to a needed location without burning a large percent of it in transit? Were there flight lines that could be dropped without altering the value of the program? Could the work be done from one base with one cache of fuel? The end result is a fine tuned and very trim program designed to deliver the science with maximum coordination amongst the partners and agencies. Key supporting agencies include the United States National Science Foundation, the British Antarctic Survey, the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Australian Antarctic Division, Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration and the Japanese National Institute of Polar Research.

US C17 aircraft

Fuel will be moved by air and by overland traverse from where it is currently stockpiled. An overland traverse will head out of South Pole on December 3rd to travel to AGAP S with a cache of fuel. Air drops using a C17 are planned for four dates in November to bring additional fuel to AGAP S. Follow the fuel...


The Camps

The camps for the project are located on either side of Dome A. AGAP South to the west of the dome and AGAP North to the east. The South Pole will be used for acclimatizing by the teams.

There are two main camps constructed for this project - AGAP South (AGAP S) and AGAP North (AGAP N). AGAP S will home base for the U.S. and German team and AGAP N will be the main base of operation for Australian and British team. The U.S. began construction on AGAP S in 2007, quickly finding that with the high altitude and extreme cold the workers had a hard time acclimatizing to the environment. Completion of the camp was postponed until field season 2008. AGAP North will be constructed by the Australian Antarctic Division in the 2008 field season.

Field Season

AGAP S under construction

Time for field work in Antarctica is very restricted. Time at Dome A in East Antarctica will be extremely compressed. The field season in Antarctica is controlled by the weather. Summers run from late October through late January providing the window for field work. The higher the altitude the shorter this field window becomes. In addition to a shorter field season, for work on Dome A a two step process of acclimatization to the thinner altitude is mandated. All parties will acclimatize at South Pole for several days and then move on to their camps for another several days of adjustment. No fieldwork will be completed during these days. The result is 25 days of data collection if the weather is good, and the equipment is trouble free.

Key Dates & Players

United States twin otter plane

AGAP South GAMBIT: One group from the United States will work in combination with a German science team flying a twin otter aircraft out of APAG S, to gather airborne geophysical data. The US and German crew will report to McMurdo Base to begin the field season preparations between Nov. 10th and 17th. Transit to the South Pole to begin acclimatization will occur Dec. 8th and 11th. Transit to AGAP S will occur Dec. 11th and 14th. Full science field operations will begin on December 14th and will continue non stop until the team departs on Jan. 10th to return to McMurdo.


Gamseis December 2007 first season

AGAP South GAMSEIS: A second US team will use a USAP utility twin otter to deploy and service 25 seismometers on the ice. Working with support from the Japanese, this group will monitor seismic equipment installed December 2007 when the AGAP S camp was first being constructed. Using seismic waves coming up out of the ground from earthquakes around the world, this group of scientists will use these waves to image the lithospheric structure of the Gamburtsev Mountains.


British Antarctic Survey Plane (BAS)
APAG North: The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) will be flying a twin otter aircraft out of AGAP N. The British crew will report to McMurdo Base to begin the field season preparations Nov. 3rd. Transit to the South Pole to begin acclimatization will occur Nov. 27th. Transit to AGAP N will occur Nov. 30th. Full science field operations will begin on December 3rd and will continue until the team departs on Jan. 10th to return to McMurdo.



Australian Antarctic Division grooming runways

The Australian Antarctic Division will be a key piece to the operations of the AGAP N camp. The Australian's will construct the camp and keep a crew there during the full field season operations to keep the camp running. The picture to the right shows grooming the runways which is a crucial role in an air based field program.



Overland traverse vehicle. The Chinese team, as part of their program PANDA, will come in with traverse vehicles much like the one pictured here.

Once the fuel is dropped in location the packaging and protective padding must be removed. The Chinese had originally hoped as part of their overland traverse in 2007 to bring fuel for the project. Adjustments to their field season did not allow this. As part of their 2008 traverse they will collect the packaging and padding from the fuel drops and remove them. The Chinese plan to leave from their station on the East Coast of Antarctica, Prydz Bay, December 15th to follow up the fuel drops and collect the packaging. It is important to recognize there is an International Antarctic code requiring the removal of all trash and waste. China's role in this piece of the project is important.
  The Many Partners of the AGAP Project
  British Antarctic Survey
  National Science Foundation | IPY
  Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
  University of Kansas
  US Geological Survey
  University of New Hampshire
  Elizabeth City State University
  Washington University in St Louis
  Penn State University
  Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources
  Alfred Wegener Institute
  Australian Antarctic Division
  National Antarctic Research Expedition and Polar Research Institute China – PANDA
  National Institute of Polar Research
This project funded through NSF Antarctic Research Grants #ANT 0632292; ANT 0619457 | contact us | web master
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