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Antarctica Geological Mapping

GNS Science and its predecessor, the New Zealand Geological Survey, have been an integral part of New Zealand’s Antarctic research programme since the International Geophysical Year (1957-58).  Outputs include a geological map series and geological studies that have been used widely by other organisations. Other significant science achievements include: ANDRILL (geological drilling), GCT (ice core drilling) and RossMap (seismic stratigraphy).  This work has resulted in significant gains in understanding the glacial geology and this information is contributing to research into Antarctic glacial dynamics in response to changing climatic conditions. 

Geological mapping has been a major focus, with results published as a series of 1:50 000 geological maps. The 2nd edition 1:250,000 geological map and GIS dataset (QMAP South Victoria Land) was a major New Zealand contribution to the International Polar Year (2007–09). 

More recently, GNS has lead the development of the SCAR GeoMAP project which is a world-first digital database of Antarctic geology. Working with 18 international collaborators from 14 nations, the project has translated hundreds of hard copy maps into a modern GIS dataset.

Geology of Southern Victoria Land Antarctica (MQM22)

Bluff-forming orthoquartzite cliffs in the background intruded by a Jurassic dolerite sill tower over the Area Valley in the Quartermain Mountains (photo MJ Isaac). Their base camp of tents is in the foreground.

Bluff-forming orthoquartzite intruded by a Jurassic dolerite sill tower over the Area Valley in the Quartermain Mountains (photo MJ Isaac).

Southern Victoria Land is crossed by a major rift basin, its uplifted shoulder forming the Transantarctic Mountains escarpment. Associated with this rift are large stratovolcanoes on Ross Island and on the mainland nearby. In the Transantarctic Mountains, Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic granitoids and their host rocks are overlain by a thick sequence of Devonian-Triassic sedimentary rocks and these are intruded by Jurassic dolerite sills. Eocene to Holocene deposits in the Dry Valleys and beneath the Ross Sea, including the products of Miocene and later volcanism, preserve a record of ice sheet and glacier fluctuations.

More detail on the map can be found here. The map, text and dataset (as feature classes in ESRI file geodatabase and shapefile GIS formats) are available for purchase from the GNS Shop. The data are also freely consumable as Web Map Services and Web Feature Services from GeoServer and ArcGIS Server. GIS layerfiles that reference the web services will be available for use in ArcGIS and QGIS soon.


Geological Dataset of Antarctica Web Map

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research GeoMAP

Following the successful completion of the 1:250 000 Geological Map of New Zealand and the release of the Geology of Southern Victoria land, GNS Science launched an ambitious project to build a similar high-quality dataset over the entire Antarctic continent. This initiative was supported by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research in 2014 and SCAR GeoMAP was born.  With collaboration from enthusiastic researchers from 14 nations and a hard-core of 11 students who captured the data from hard copy maps, a GIS dataset describing exposed bedrock and surficial geology of Antarctica was created and a beta version released in 2019 through an interactive web map. A fully QA/QC dataset is expected to be released in mid-2020.

For more details on SCAR geological mapping, visit  https://www.scar.org/science/geomap/home/.