Pictures of Antarctic bases

"In Antarctica you get to know people so well that in comparison you do not seem to know the people in civilization at all."   — Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1886—1959), The worst travel in the world.

For some maps and satellites pictures showing the location of those research stations, go look at the Satellite pages.

On this page:

Antarctic Stations Comparison Table (as of 2005)

DdUBTNMcMurdoDome CSouth Pole
PenguinsAdelies everywhere in summer, emperor penguins 5 minutes away in winterOnly a few passing AdeliesOnly a few passing AdeliesNever heard of
Other animals7 species of birds nesting between the buildings, plenty of sealsOnly some skuas and Weddell sealsSome skuas but not much elseA lost passing skua once every other yearNone
LandscapeIcebergs, the Astrolabe glacier next door, the sea and the smooth shell of the continent to the southRock fields, snow fields, the Melbourne volcano in the distanceThe Erebus and the Transantarctic range in the distancePure unadulterated emptiness
HikingHard to get out of the island in summer, nice sea-ice walks between icebergs in winterNice hiking on snow and rockThere's probably plenty but they don't like you walking aroundPlenty of space but nowhere to go !
Food3 star restaurant all year longExcellent pasta, pizza party on saturdayJust plain gross when I was thereGood mix of french and italian food, but lacks fresh veggies even in summerN/A
Internet accessLimited emailLimited emailFull access, even hosting serversLimited emailStandard Internet access several hours a day
PayProportional to what you make back homeEverybody paid the sameDepends on your contract, which sometimes changes while you're thereDepends whether you are french or italianSame as McMurdo
WeatherVery windyQuite niceCloudy and dustyVery coldVery cold and also quite windy
Population100 in summer, 20~35 in winter100 in summer, nobody in winter1000 and up in summer, 150~300 in winter50~60 in summer, 10~16 in winter100~300 in summer, 30~100 in winter
Brief historySuccessor of the burn down Port Martin Station, first building completed in 1952, first winterover in 1952, continuous operation since 1956Active for summer campaigns since about 1980Scott's hut built in 1901 is right there but the bulk of the station was built just before the International Geophysical Year of 1957American summer campaigns in the mid-70s, franco-italian summer activity started in 1996, year round operation started in 2005Built during the IGY of 1957
Logistics5 summer rotations a year of the ship Astrolabe, some Twin Otter flights from Terra NovaOne rotation of the ship Italica every year, a few C-130 flights from NZNuclear ice breakers and other large ships, many C-130 and C-141 flights from NZLand traverses from DdU, Twin Otter flights from Terra NovaMany C-130 flights from McMurdo
Main scienceBiology, geophysics...Glaciology, astronomyCosmology
LinkDdUBTN/MZSMcMurdoDome CSouth Pole



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The unmistakable green buildings Scott base (New-Zealand, image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Scott Base, New-Zealand

Left: The unmistakable green buildings Scott base (New-Zealand, image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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Scott base (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Right: Scott base (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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Activities at Scott base: windsailing and dog sledding. Dogs are now illegal in Antarctica as per the Antarctic Treaty (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Left: Activities at Scott base: windsailing and dog sledding. Dogs are now illegal in Antarctica as per the Antarctic Treaty (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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View of the channel open for the refueling boats, Scott base in the foreground, the Transantarctic Range in the background (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Right: View of the channel open for the refueling boats, Scott base in the foreground, the Transantarctic Range in the background (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).



Amundsen-Scott, South Pole, U.S.A.


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The true South Pole: the post needs to be moved some tens of meters every year due to  ice motion. In the background the dome hosting the base is visible (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Left: The true South Pole: the post needs to be moved some tens of meters every year due to ice motion. In the background the dome hosting the base is visible (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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Official ceremony: Martine nails down the PARIS sign on the South Pole pole in the presence of a russian winterer (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Right: Official ceremony: Martine nails down the PARIS sign on the South Pole pole in the presence of a russian winterer (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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The 'ceremonial' south pole, next to the Amundsen-Scott station, moves along with the base and the ice plateau (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Left: The 'ceremonial' south pole, next to the Amundsen-Scott station, moves along with the base and the ice plateau (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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The flags of the Antarctic Treaty signatories (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Right: The flags of the Antarctic Treaty signatories (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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Amundsen-Scott base at the South Pole, open since 1957 (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Left: Amundsen-Scott base at the South Pole, open since 1957 (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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The dome housing the Amundsen-Scott base in 1977, now submerged by snow (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Right: The dome housing the Amundsen-Scott base in 1977, now submerged by snow (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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Entrance of the dome (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Left: Entrance of the dome (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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Vehicle for moving around the dome (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Right: Vehicle for moving around the dome (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).


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South Pole, seen from above (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

Left: South Pole, seen from above (image © Thierry Cappelle 1977, used with permission).

More info about the Amundsen-Scott station and the south pole on Dana's website.




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Mid-Point Charlie, small outpost.

Mid-Point Charlie


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6 year later, and there's not much left at Midpoint: the airstrip, a small vehicle to level the snow, an emergency bubble and a stack of snow-covered kerosene drums.

This is a tiny outpost located halfway between Terra Nova Bay and Dome C. In 2000 it had a small team of US scientists drilling ice in summer but usually it is empty and only used as a refueling stop by airplanes on their way between Terra Nova and Dome C. On the picture you can see two large fuel bags and a few tents. This station is located on the high Antarctic plateau, but right where the catabatic winds begin to gather some speed while still remaining as cold as at the domes... so it is almost as cold as Dome C but with much more severe windchill. Currently there's not much there: a tiny emergency tent, a small Kassbohrer to clean up the airstrip, a stack of drums of fuel brought by airplane from BTN and that's about it. Nobody stays there for longer than it takes to refuel the Twin-Otter.

Left: 6 year later, and there's not much left at Midpoint: the airstrip, a small vehicle to level the snow, an emergency bubble and a stack of snow-covered kerosene drums. Purchase this image on a royalty-free CD archive compilation


Talos Dome


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Twin Otters and fuel tanks on the Talos Dome airstrip.

Left: Twin Otters and fuel tanks on the Talos Dome airstrip.

Talos Dome (sometimes spelled Thalos Dome) is a recent outpost where an new ice core project is under way. Located in Victoria Land, closer to the shore, it has snow coming from a different origin than Dome C: the closeness to the ocean means more humidity and different kinds of chemicals contained in the snow. So it can at the same time be used to correlate the Dome C ice core and see what the differences are. This is another Epica project.

Like most field camps, only the minimal equipment is present: a trailer with basic accommodations, some fuel for airplanes, a few vehicles to work on the camp and just a few french and italian workers. I passed through the camp during a brief Twin Otter stop, just time enough to leave some food and mail. The camp is located on top of one of those snow domes, here 72°48'S, 159°06'E, at an altitude of 2316m.


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Part of the field camp installed at Talos Dome: a few trailers brought by a Traverse.

Right: Part of the field camp installed at Talos Dome: a few trailers brought by a Traverse.


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Walking towards the drilling cave.

Left: Walking towards the drilling cave.


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The underground drilling platform, with a partly collapsed roof. The wood beams installed last year didn't stand the weight of snow fallen during the winter. They are in the process of being replaced with stronger metal beams.

Right: The underground drilling platform, with a partly collapsed roof. The wood beams installed last year didn't stand the weight of snow fallen during the winter. They are in the process of being replaced with stronger metal beams.


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A glaciologist showing the ash layer found in a recent ice-core. This layer is absent from the Dome C ice-core, showing the importance of drilling in different places to avoid local characteristics.

Left: A glaciologist showing the ash layer found in a recent ice-core. This layer is absent from the Dome C ice-core, showing the importance of drilling in different places to avoid local characteristics. Purchase this image on a royalty-free CD archive compilation



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Looking north the Lemaire Channel

Faraday, U.K.

I've never been to Faraday Station, but Billy sent me those pictures (with the comments on them). Looks like a pretty nice place. It's a British station located on the west side of the Antarctic peninsula, near Palmer Station.



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Looking North from Faraday Base

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Faraday Base from Thumb Rock

Left: Looking North from Faraday Base

Right: Faraday Base from Thumb Rock

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