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Home* Antarctic News → Hal­ley VI: An ant­arc­tic rese­arch sta­ti­on has to move

Hal­ley VI: An ant­arc­tic rese­arch sta­ti­on has to move

In 2012, the Bri­tish Ant­arc­tic Sur­vey had built an ultra-modern rese­arch sta­ti­on, on the eas­tern side of the Wed­dell sea: Hal­ley
VI. The five pre­vious sta­ti­ons were eit­her cove­r­ed in snow or not safe to use any­mo­re. Simi­lar to the Ger­man rese­arch sta­ti­on­Neu­may­er III, whe­re rese­ar­chers moved in for the first time in 2009, Hal­ley VI is situa­ted on the shelf ice. Alrea­dy Neu­may­er III was per­fect­ly con­struc­ted for the pre­vai­ling con­di­ti­ons. It should be able to with­stand the local­ly strong winds and drif­ting snow should not accu­mu­la­te to the buil­dings. Sin­ce ice is moving, she­ar for­ces would act on the con­struc­tion, too. Fore the­se rea­sons the buil­ding was erec­ted on hydrau­lic legs, which gra­du­al­ly could lift it to the level of the cur­rent snow lay­er. Howe­ver, the Ger­man base is fixed to the ice below. At the pre­sent loca­ti­on the sta­ti­on is drif­ting to the shelf ice edge
with a speed of 157 metres per year. The Bri­tish impro­ved their new con­struc­tion, and in Febru­a­ry 2012, a modu­lar buil­ding on ski was rea­dy to move in on the Brunt ice shelf. It can also be lifted hydrau­li­cal­ly. Each year, 1.5 metres of snow accu­mu­la­te due to eit­her snow fall or snow drift. The appro­xi­mate­ly 150 met­re thick ice shelf below Hal­ley VI moves with a speed of more than 400 meters per year. To pre­vent the loss of the base over the years, hea­vy vehi­cles are able to move the indi­vi­du­al modu­les on their ski from its loca­ti­on.

When Hal­ley VI was used for the first time in 2012, several chasms in the shelf ice South of the sta­ti­on were alrea­dy known. Almost one year later, after 35 years of inac­ti­vi­ty, the chasms star­ted to grow again. The crack clo­sest to the sta­ti­on incre­a­sed by appro­xi­mate­ly 1.7 kilo­me­tres per year. Last Octo­ber, rese­ar­chers detec­ted a new fis­su­re in the North. They worried about the sta­ti­on to be cut off from the main­land. The­re­fo­re, BAS deci­ded for the relo­ca­ti­on of the Hal­ley VI, and the sta­ti­on would not be avail­ab­le for rese­arch for 3 years. Wit­hin that time, the trans­fer of the buil­dings should be
com­ple­ted. During the Ant­arc­tic sum­mer of 2015/16 sci­en­tists sur­vey­ed the area for a new loca­ti­on and a safe rou­te for trans­port. It is about 23 kilo­me­tres fur­ther inland. Camps for fiel­dwor­kers and engi­neers will be build and the first modu­les are get­ting on the road during the cur­rent sum­mer. The rese­ar­chers hope that the base will be rea­dy for work for the 2017 sum­mer team. The sup­ply rou­te over the shelf-ice edge would then be exten­ded to 40 kilo­me­tres. Bet­ter safe than sor­ry!

Hal­ley VI sta­ti­on on the Brunt shelf ice. Pho­to © Bri­tish Ant­arc­tic Sur­vey.

Halley VI

last modification: 2017-02-08 · copyright: Rolf Stange