Geology at the Byrd Polar Research Center

Ferrar Glacier in south Victoria Land, Antarctica

Geological Science has been, and continues to be, a major strength at BPRC. Members, including BPRC researchers and faculty at the Department of Geological Sciences, conduct interdisciplinary research in both Polar areas as well as in many related regions.

In Antarctica, BPRC geoscientists pioneered geological investigations of the Transantarctic Mountains beginning with the International Geophysical Year in 1957, and have been leaders since that time on the majority of helicopter supported field camps, such as the geoscience programs in the Shackleton and Beardmore Glacier regions, in national and international cooperative research initiatives, such as the Cape Roberts Drilling Project, and in the Scientific working groups of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research and on national advisory groups concerned with polar science, including the Polar Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the Arctic, BPRC geoscientists have participated in the establishment of major national and international research initiatives, such as the Healy-Oden TransArctic Expedition (HOTRAX 2005), contributing significantly to the knowledge of arctic Quaternary paleoclimate, glaciation history, and recent sedimentary and oceanographic processes.

BPRC geoscientists are conducting investigations on several other continents to understand the role of Antarctica in global tectonics and continental evolution, and the role of historical ice sheets in the global climate-oceanographic system.

Geoscientists at BPRC have developed new theories on ice-sheet and climate history, glaciogenic sedimentary processes, and continental configurations during global tectonic reorganizations. BPRC researchers are developing new applications of satellite image analysis to solve geological problems.

BPRC maintains large, unique collections of geological samples and materials at the Polar Rock Repository (a National Science Foundation facility) and the Sediment Core Repository.

Current BPRC geological research projects can be grouped into several major areas: