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Dome C and lAGP


In 1969, the International Antarctic Glaciological Project - IAGP - is the first scientific program carried out in Antarctica after the International Geophysical Year - IGY (1957-58). Strongly supported by Frenchman Georges Laclavère, one of the fathers of research in Antarctica, it brings together Australians, Russians ans French to conduct raids from their respective stations Casey, Mirny and Dumont d'urville to the soviet base of Vostok. Researches in the field continued for about 10 years since 1971, getting also together the United States, Great-Britain and Japan into a vast international collaboration.

  • Dome C and lAGP : Image1
  • Dome C and lAGP : Image1-2
  • Dome C and lAGP : Image2-4
  • Dome C and lAGP : Image3
  • Dome C and lAGP : Image12-2
  • Dome C and lAGP : Image17

Dome C site characteristics, obtained in the field and enriched with the altitude profiles and the ice thicknesses observed by plane thanks to the new technique of radar sounding then available to the glaciologists, have aroused a lot of interest. A first reconnaissance campaign is therefore organised in 1974 from Mac Murdo with a US Navy airplane droping off there a small team comprising 4 Frenchmen, 1 American and 1 Russian, equiped with tents and small mobile ski-fitted tractors, the "skidoos". The observations obtained reveal a low yearly snow accumulation and a reduced flow speed; Moreover the ice resting on the bedrock is of large thickness. With the help of the Americans who will handle the necessary air support, we plan a drilling campaign; A project postponed "sine die" with the loss of two airplanes which crash to the ground while evacuating the participants in this first exploration campaign.

There will be no casualty but it will be necessary to wait 3 years in order that, by the end of 1977, the Americans unload at Dome C tons of equipments with our team of 13 people comprising drillers, technicians and researchers, of which for the first time a woman, a doctor and a chef who will make our team atmosphere more civilised.

In forty-five days, working day and night, the drillers go down to more than 900 m deep, after having overcome quite a number of problems. We study on site the ice crystals and discover that their size reflects the climate evolution, their growth in warm period being faster than in cold one. This ice core will enable characterize the climate and our atmosphere composition over tens of thousands of years,  in particular during the end of the last ice age the Earth has experienced 20,000 years ago and the beginning of the warmer climate of Holocene that we have been living in for 10 millenaries. 

With the publication of the results we enter into the climatologists of the past aristocracy.

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